September 28, 2017

EC proposes changes to rail passenger rights

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EC proposes changes to rail passenger rights Robin Ralston

THE European Commission (EC) published a proposal on September 27 to update the rules on rail passenger rights in the event of a delay, cancellation, or discrimination.

The proposal seeks to amend the 2007 regulation on rail passengers’ rights and obligations (EC Regulation No. 1371/2007), which came into effect in December 2009.

According to the impact assessment for the proposal, the current regulation leaves room for interpretation and this is considered a barrier to achieving consistent levels of passenger protection across the EU.

Updates are therefore proposed in five key areas:
Uniform application of the rules: long-distance domestic and cross-border urban, suburban and regional services can no longer be exempted from the application of passenger rights rules. Currently only five Member States apply the rules in full, with the others adopting varying degrees of exemption. The EC says significantly deprives passengers from their rights.
Information and non-discrimination: improved provision of information about passenger rights. Passengers who use connected services with separate tickets must be told whether their rights apply across the entire journey or only to the different segments. Discrimination on the basis of nationality or residence is prohibited.
Better rights for passengers with reduced mobility: mandatory right to assistance on all services and full compensation for loss or repair of mobility equipment. Relevant information must be given in accessible formats and operators will be required to provide staff with disability awareness training.
Enforcement, complaint-handling procedures and sanctioning: clear deadlines and procedures for complaint handling and clear responsibilities and competencies of national authorities responsible for the application and enforcement of passenger rights, and
Proportionality and legal fairness: a “force majeure” clause exempting rail companies from having to pay compensation in the event of delays caused by natural catastrophes, which they could neither foresee nor prevent. Under the current rules, operators are forced to pay compensation even when faced with such events.

The impact assessment states that the combination of options being put forward “provides a balanced approach to potentially conflicting policy objectives,” with increased passenger protection and legal certainty being achieved through reducing the number of exemptions available to Member States.

The proposals will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council.

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