MEPs to back improved rail passengers’ rights

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Series Details Vol.11, No.33, 22.9.05
Publication Date 22/09/2005
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By Martin Banks

Date: 22/09/05

MEPs are next week expected to back European Commission proposals for improved rights for rail passengers.

The European Parliament's plenary in Strasbourg (26-29 September) will support proposed new levels of compensation for rail travellers throughout Europe.

But a report drafted by Belgian Liberal MEP Dirk Sterckx says the scope of the proposed legislation does not go far enough.

The report says that compensation should be given not just to international passengers, travelling on routes such as Brussels to Paris, but also on domestic journeys, such as Paris to Lyon.

If, as expected, the plenary endorses his report in a vote next Wednesday (28 September), it would set Parliament at odds with member states who insist compensation should be limited to international travel.

Under the proposals, passengers will be entitled to minimum cash refunds if their train is late. Levels of compensation would range from 25% of the fare for a delay of 60 minutes or more, 50% for a delay of 120 minutes or more and 75% for a delay of 180 minutes or more. Refunds would have to be paid within one month of the application being made.

Some member states already have compensation schemes but the Commission believes that EU-imposed minimum rates would lead to fairer treatment for rail passengers.

It believes that guaranteeing passengers clear and simple compensation rates if they do not get the service they have paid for is one way of encouraging a shift away from road and air travel.

On 19 April, the assembly's transport committee voted by a large majority to support widening the scope of the legislation and Sterckx says it would be "unfair" to exclude passengers on domestic journeys from the new compensation scheme.

His report is part of the so-called third package of rail legislation which MEPs will vote on next week. Earlier packages introduced competition into international and then domestic rail freight deliveries and also laid down standard EU-wide rules on safety issues.

The third package also deals with deadlines for the liberalisation of passenger services and a system of certificates to ensure train crews meet minimum professional, medical and linguistic standards.

Article reports that the European Parliament was likely to adopt the proposed legislation on rail passenger rights at its plenary session, 28 September 2005. Although MEPs were set to back the proposed new levels of compensation for rail travellers throughout Europe, a report drafted by Belgian Liberal MEP Dirk Sterckx said the scope of the proposed legislation did not go far enough. While Member States wanted to restrict compensation to international journeys, in its report the European Parliament called for journeys within Member States to be covered likewise.

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