‘New EU rail passenger rights agreement will not achieve modal shift’
The proposed new passenger rights agreement by Member States and the EU Parliament does not go far enough to make rail more attractive, says ALLRAIL, which represents independent passenger rail companies. They are critical about the fact it did not mandate through-ticketing across all operators.
On the 1st of October, the European Parliament and council negotiators reached a provisional political agreement on stronger rail passenger rights under the updated legislation. The updated legislation on rail passengers’ rights should guarantee rerouting and help passengers when there are delays and cancellations, improve access and assistance to people with reduced mobility, and help to create more dedicated spaces for bicycles.
The agreements do not go far enough according to ALLRAIL, the Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants in Europe: “With rail being one of the most sustainable modes of transport, it is very disappointing that EU negotiators have killed off one of the most effective ways to achieve modal shift. It will now be much harder to reach the goals of the EU Green Deal.”
According to ALLRAIL General Secretary Nick Brooks, mandatory through-ticketing should have been included in the agreements. 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. In the new agreements, through-tickets are only mandatory if connecting trains are run by a sole railway undertaking, for example when a journey involves a connection between a regional and a long-distance train.
While the current regulation allows a large number of exemptions, the new rules will apply to an increased number of services. In addition, the agreed text clarifies passenger rights in case of delays and cancellations and strengthens the rules on re-routing. According to ALLRAIL, this is however not sufficient since through-ticketing is not mandatory when a train journey includes several railway undertakings.
Mandatory through-ticketing would have allowed travelers to receive passenger rights coverage, regardless which operators form part of the travel chain as long as minimum connection times are adhered to, Brooks argues. These rights could include missed connection protection and delay compensation for their entire rail journey. The liability for any delay compensation should then lie with the causer of that delay, which is the fairest and most effective way to improve on-time performance, says ALLRAIL.
Nick Brooks: “By rejecting mandatory through ticketing, EU negotiators have decided against the interests of rail passengers. They have rejected a measure that would have made searching and booking a rail journey much easier.”
Rerouting and bicycle racks
In the new passenger rights agreement there are arrangements included about rerouting passengers and bike racks. In case of delays of over 100 minutes, rail operators will be obliged to reroute passengers in any way possible and assist travellers to find the best alternatives, as is already the case with air carriers. All trains will have to be equipped with dedicated spaces and racks for bicycles.
“We reached an important agreement for the future of European rail transport. We managed to secure the same minimal passenger rights all over the EU when it comes to spaces for bikes, through-tickets and rights of passengers with reduced mobility. Those are important improvements in making rail travel more convenient and passenger-friendly,” said rapporteur and parliament member Bogusław Liberadzki.
The provisional agreement will first have to be approved by the Council. The agreements will enter into force after the rules are published in the Official Journal of the EU and become applicable 24 months later. The presidency will brief the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee on the outcome of the trilogue meeting on 7 October. It intends to submit the agreement for endorsement by Coreper in the coming weeks.