At the end of September 2017, the Commission proposed amendments to the current EU legislation related to the protection of rail passenger rights. The current legislative framework set up by Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007, grants passengers the right to financial compensation if their train arrives at destination with a delay of one hour or more. Delayed passengers are also entitled to meals and refreshments (proportionate to the waiting time), and accommodation if they have to stay overnight.
The Commission's proposal updates the existing rules on rail passenger rights in five key areas: (i) uniform application of EU rules: under the draft regulation, long distance domestic and cross-border urban, suburban and regional services can no longer be exempted from the application of passenger rights rules; (ii) transparency and principle of non-discrimination: passengers should be better informed about their rights; (iii) protection of passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility: the Commission’s proposal aims to provide persons with disabilities or reduced mobility with better and a more adequate protection; (iv) enforcement of passenger rights; handling of complaints and sanctions: the proposal aims to introduce clear deadlines and procedures for complaint handling. Furthermore, the draft regulation will delimit the powers and the competencies of national authorities responsible for the application and enforcement of passenger rights; (v) exemption in “force majeure” events: under the current regulatory framework, rail companies have to pay compensation even when faced with such events. The Commission proposes the insertion of a "force majeure" clause to rail companies’ general terms and conditions. This clause will exempt rail operators from the obligation to pay compensation in the event of delays caused by natural catastrophes, which they could neither foresee nor prevent.
The proposal of the Commission is now to be examined and adopted by the Parliament and the Council of the EU before entering into force.