Implementation of the Regulation on Rail Passengers’ Rights (EC) No 1371/2007: the Rail Sector’s Report
The European regulation on the rights and obligations of rail passengers (Regulation (EU) No 1371/2007) came into force on 3 December 2009. Three years later, as railways review the progress made in implementing the regulation, they note that although a lot has been achieved, there is still work for them to improve services to passengers even further. CER is pleased to report quite respectable punctuality; passenger operators record levels above 95% on average. More precisely, 98% of all trains arrive within 15 minutes of their scheduled time and even with a 10 minute threshold the figure is still 96%. Furthermore, nearly 100% of trains arrive within 60 or 120 minutes of their scheduled time (60 and 120 minutes are the two thresholds set in the regulation for payment of compensation to passengers). European railways are also investing resources to improve the way passengers’ complaints are handled. Although the number of complaints has increased since the European regulation came into effect (something which shows that passengers are more and more aware of their rights), CER members report that the time needed to send a response to passengers is generally less than the minimum required (one month). In addition, customers can increasingly make use of alternative dispute resolution systems, which are less costly and time consuming for them than taking action in the courts. Railways have taken initiatives to improve the way passengers are informed about their rights, especially in the event of disruption where they have to handle hundreds, even thousands of stranded passengers. In this way railways are responding to passengers’ evolving needs and expectations. Cooperation on ticketing has also increased: CER, CIT and their members are working together to develop systems which can apply right across Europe. Investments have also been prioritised to make rail services accessible to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility; railways are developing innovative solutions to assist passengers with special needs. Railways are also working together to share best practice and to develop guidelines to improve their services to passengers with special needs, for instance with the development of a common assistance booking tool. We are pleased to say that the achievements of the past years have been made possible thanks to a close working relationship with passengers’ representatives. CER and CIT initiated this dialogue in 2003 by setting up bi-annual meetings bringing railways and European federations representing passengers (including organisations representing disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility) together. Within individual countries, dialogue between railways and customer federations, including associations of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, is taking place all the time. Earlier this year, on 10 May, in this spirit of open dialogue and transparency, we held a workshop in Brussels with the national bodies enforcing Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007. This represented the first attempt to discuss issues with enforcement bodies. As a result of this successful first meeting, follow up discussions will take place on a number of key elements in the regulation. The outcome of these discussions will be shared at a second workshop next year. The European Commission has announced its intention to draft guidelines for the implementation of the regulation on rail passengers’ rights. We hope that this report, which summarises the experience of rail passenger operators and the outcome of their discussions with their passengers and national enforcement bodies, will be a useful contribution and a helpful basis for future discussions with all transport stakeholders.