EU rail passengers’ rights
Regulation (EU) 2021/782 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations
It aims to provide significantly improved protection to rail passengers in the event of travel disruptions.
It also aims to respond better to the needs of persons with disabilities or reduced mobility.
The regulation applies to international or domestic rail journeys throughout the European Union (EU) provided by one or more railway companies. It includes a number of new and important features.
Through-tickets. A new obligation for carriers qualifying as a ‘sole railway undertaking’* to offer their long-distance (international and domestic) and regional rail services as a through-ticket.
Real-time travel information. Infrastructure managers shall distribute real-time traffic data to railway undertakings, ticket vendors, tour operators and station managers. Railway companies must provide real-time dynamic travel information to other railway companies selling their tickets, as well as to ticket vendors and tour operators.
Right to self-routing. Where passengers have not been offered a timely solution (within 100 minutes) in the event of a disruption to their journey, they can themselves organise alternative public transportation by rail or bus, and be reimbursed by the carrier for the ‘necessary, appropriate and reasonable’ cost of the additional ticket.
Transporting bicycles. Dedicated spaces for assembled (not merely folding) bicycles will be required on new trains and on those which have had major upgrades.
Persons with disabilities or reduced mobility. Reduces the pre-notification period for assistance requests to 24 hours along with a number of other measures.
Enforcing passengers’ rights. Introduces an improved enforcement framework including:
an amended complaint-handling mechanism;
a reinforced obligation for cooperation between the national enforcement bodies;
a standardised EU-wide form allowing passengers to request reimbursement or compensation.
Force majeure clause. Railway undertakings do not have to pay compensation for delays or cancellation in the case of extraordinary circumstances such as a pandemic or extreme weather conditions.
Equal treatment. Discrimination based on the passenger’s nationality or the place of establishment within the EU of the carrier or the ticket vendor and tour operator is prohibited.
Major disruptions. In coordination with infrastructure and station managers, railway undertakings should prepare contingency plans (including accessible alert and information systems) to prepare for the
possibility of major disruption and long delays causing a considerable number of passengers to be stranded in a station.
Exemptions. Previously existing exemptions are curtailed and no rail services are per se exempted. Certain exemptions can still be granted by EU Member States, such as for urban, suburban and regional passenger services, to which an increased number of mandatory provisions would then remain applicable.
Regulation (EU) 2021/782 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2021 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations (recast) (OJ L 172, 17.5.2021, pp. 1-52)
It enters into force on 6 June 2021 and applies from 7 June 2023.
Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services (OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, pp. 70-115)
Commission Regulation (EU) No 1300/2014 of 18 November 2014 on the technical specifications for interoperability relating to accessibility of the Union’s rail system for persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility (OJ L 356, 12.12.2014, pp. 110-178)
Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1300/2014 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 establishing a single European railway area (OJ L 343, 14.12.2012, pp. 32-77)
See consolidated version.
Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations (OJ L 315, 3.12.2007, pp. 14-41)
Rail passenger rights (2007)
Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations
It aims at establishing rights and obligations for rail passengers in order to protect them particularly when travel is disrupted, and to improve the efficiency and attractiveness of rail passenger services.
The regulation concerns all rail journeys and services provided under licence by one or more rail undertakings under Directive 2012/34/EU (see summary on A single railway network for Europe).
It does not apply to journeys and services carried out on non-EU countries’ territory.
An EU country can opt to grant an exemption from most articles of the regulation to domestic rail passenger services for a maximum period of 5 years, which may be renewed twice. It may also exempt urban, suburban and regional rail passenger services from this regulation.
Rail passengers have the following basic rights:
Transport contract and information
Passengers should be given clear and accessible information:
before the journey, in particular concerning the relevant conditions applicable to the contract, timetables and the fares applied;
during the journey, in particular concerning any delays or interruptions to services;
concerning procedures for the submission of complaints;
The information provided to persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility shall be in an accessible format.
Delays and cancellations
In the case of a delay of more than 60 minutes in the arrival at final destination, passengers have the right to:
the reimbursement of the full cost of the ticket for the part of the journey not made; or
continuation or re-routing under comparable transport conditions at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at the passengers’ convenience.
If passengers do not opt for reimbursement but for continuation of the journey, they may claim a minimum compensation equivalent to:
25% of the ticket price for a delay of 60 to 119 minutes;
50% of the ticket price for a delay of 120 minutes or more.
In the case of a delay in arrival or departure of more than 60 minutes, passengers have the right to:
receive information on the situation and the estimated departure and arrival time;
meals and refreshments within reasonable limits;
accommodation where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary;
transport to the railway station or to the alternative departure point or to the final destination if the train is blocked on the track.
Persons with disability and reduced mobility
The EU rail passenger rights legislation will ensure that persons with disability and reduced mobility can travel in a way that is comparable to other citizens. Thus, the regulation gives them the following rights:
the right to non-discriminatory access to transport at no additional charge;
upon request, to be provided with information concerning the accessibility of rail services and stations;
an assistance free of charge on board trains and at staffed stations (passengers are requested to give 48 hours’ notice of their assistance needs before departure);
the right to compensation if the rail undertaking is responsible for the loss or damage of their mobility equipment.
Security, complaints and service quality
Passengers’ personal security is ensured in trains and stations in cooperation with the public authorities.
An effective complaints handling mechanism has to be put in place. Passengers may complain to any rail undertaking involved.
The minimum service quality standards for rail undertakings include:
passenger information and tickets;
punctuality of service and general principles to cope with disruptions;
cancellation of services;
cleanliness of rolling stock and station facilities;
customer satisfaction surveys;
complaint handling, refunds and compensation for non-compliance with service quality standards;
assistance provided to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility.
Enforcement by EU countries
EU countries must designate an independent body or bodies in charge of the enforcement of the regulation. Passengers can submit a complaint to any of these bodies if they feel that their rights have not been respected.
EU countries must also set up effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for infringements of the regulation.
Application & Background
It has applied since 3 December 2009.
For more information, see:
Passenger rights: rail (European Commission).
Following the COVID-19 outbreak and introducing measures to cope with the impact of the crisis, the European Commission adopted:
Commission Notice Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19
Commission Recommendation (EU) 2020/648 of 13 May 2020 on vouchers offered to passengers and travellers as an alternative to reimbursement for cancelled package travel and transport services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations (OJ L 315, 3.12.2007, pp 14-41)
Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 establishing a single European railway area (recast) (OJ L 343, 14.12.2012, pp. 32-77)
Successive amendments to Directive 2012/34/EU have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Communication from the Commission — Interpretative Guidelines on Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council on rail passengers’ rights and obligations (OJ C 220, 4.7.2015, pp. 1-10)
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Exemptions granted by Member States under Regulation (EC) 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations (COM(2015) 117 final, 11.3.2015)