A provisional political agreement has been reached between European Parliament and Council negotiators on stronger rights for passengers travelling by train.
The revised rules are expected to improve the rights of passengers, in particular of those with disabilities or reduced mobility; guarantee rerouting; help passengers when there are delays and cancellations; and help to create more dedicated spaces for bicycles.
According to an announcement, the agreed text includes:
Rerouting and assistance in case of significant delays
If delays of over 100 minutes occur, the rail operators will be obliged to reroute passengers in any way possible and assist travellers to find the best alternatives, as is the case with air carriers.
Assisting people with reduced mobility
The deal includes a shorter pre-notification obligation and better assistance for disabled people. Travellers with reduced mobility should notify the operator of their travel plans 24 hours in advance (under current rules, they have to notify the operator 48 hours in advance).
Refurbishing trains for more bicycles
In an effort to provide more sustainable mobility and comfortable alternatives, all trains will have to be equipped with dedicated spaces and racks for bicycles.
Moreover, under the new rules, rail operators would have to provide through-ticketing on all their routes, covering all legs of the journey with a similar high level of protection. ( A through-ticket is a single ticket which is valid for all or a number of successive train connections in a journey and safeguards the rights to re-routing and compensation in case of delays or missed connections.)
The agreed text also introduces a force majeure clause for rail companies so that they are not obliged, in exceptional circumstances, to pay compensation. According to the negotiators, this will help ensure that there is a level playing field between transport providers representing different modes of transport.
The provisional agreement for improved rail passenger rights in Europe is subject to approval by the Council.