Rail passenger rights and obligations

07-11-2016

Regulation (EC) 1371/2007 provides passengers with minimum protection when travelling by trains. The rights applicable to train passengers included in the regulation reflect the 10 core passenger rights applicable to all modes of transport. The regulation obliges Member States, their respective authorities and railway undertakings to implement these provisions in their practice, not only to safeguard passengers’ rights, but also to increase the share of train transport compared to other modes of transport. In this context, Regulation (EC) 1371/2007 is an important harmonisation tool which should ensure that all passengers travelling by train in the EU have the same rights. However, the regulation provides Member States with a very wide discretion towards the application of its provisions. Member States can grant broad exemptions from the application of the regulation. Although these exemptions are granted temporarily, not exceeding a maximum period of 15 years, they have a considerable impact on uniform application of the regulation. Currently, only four Member States apply the regulation without any exemption, while the remaining 24 Member States have granted numerous exemptions for their domestic, urban, suburban or regional train services. The extensive application of these exemptions, despite being permitted legally, impairs the uniform application and enforcement of Regulation (EC) 1371/2007. Train passengers thus have different rights in different Member States. The European Parliament has called for stronger passenger rights and for their implementation in a manner that would remove all ambiguities and misunderstandings. Parliament has also called several times for the adoption of a Charter of Passengers' Rights covering all forms of transport. Similarly, the European Economic and Social Committee has noted the need to strengthen passenger rights. Finally, the European Commission itself has expressed a willingness to strengthen and improve rail passenger rights when travelling in the EU.

Regulation (EC) 1371/2007 provides passengers with minimum protection when travelling by trains. The rights applicable to train passengers included in the regulation reflect the 10 core passenger rights applicable to all modes of transport. The regulation obliges Member States, their respective authorities and railway undertakings to implement these provisions in their practice, not only to safeguard passengers’ rights, but also to increase the share of train transport compared to other modes of transport. In this context, Regulation (EC) 1371/2007 is an important harmonisation tool which should ensure that all passengers travelling by train in the EU have the same rights. However, the regulation provides Member States with a very wide discretion towards the application of its provisions. Member States can grant broad exemptions from the application of the regulation. Although these exemptions are granted temporarily, not exceeding a maximum period of 15 years, they have a considerable impact on uniform application of the regulation. Currently, only four Member States apply the regulation without any exemption, while the remaining 24 Member States have granted numerous exemptions for their domestic, urban, suburban or regional train services. The extensive application of these exemptions, despite being permitted legally, impairs the uniform application and enforcement of Regulation (EC) 1371/2007. Train passengers thus have different rights in different Member States. The European Parliament has called for stronger passenger rights and for their implementation in a manner that would remove all ambiguities and misunderstandings. Parliament has also called several times for the adoption of a Charter of Passengers' Rights covering all forms of transport. Similarly, the European Economic and Social Committee has noted the need to strengthen passenger rights. Finally, the European Commission itself has expressed a willingness to strengthen and improve rail passenger rights when travelling in the EU.