Your rights as a train passenger in the European Union
Your legal rights as a passenger when travelling by train in the EU are set out in the Rail Passenger Rights Regulation 2007 (EC) No 1371/2007 (RPRR).
The RPRR covers you for things like delayed or cancelled journeys and grants you passenger legal rights.
The basic set of rules
Under the RPRR, all EU train operating companies (TOCs) must:
- Offer point-to-point tickets, through tickets, and seat reservations
- Comply with the liability requirement for passengers and their luggage, including any obligations to passengers’ personal security
- Offer a minimum level of insurance for a train company
- Give transport rights to passengers with reduced mobility, as well as details on accessibility of train services
TOCs, as well as ticket providers like Trainline, must inform passengers of their rights, outlined below:
Rights for passengers with reduced mobility
TOCs must give passengers with reduced mobility:
- access services
- information on the accessibility of train services, upon request, as well as assistance boarding, whilst on board, and disembarking a train free of charge. Customers must request this assistance at least 48 hours before it’s needed.
TOCs must also accept responsibility for any loss (total or partial) of, or damage to, mobility equipment or other specific equipment used by persons with reduced mobility caused by the company.
Passenger rights to information
Before and during your train journey, you’re entitled to details about:
- The fastest and cheapest journey options
- Connecting services
- Accessibility and bicycle transport
- Seating (smoking and non-smoking compartments and any sleeping carriages)
- Ticket classes (e.g. First Class)
- Disruptions and delays (including next trains and estimated arrival times)
- Onboard services (including toilets and refreshments)
- Lost luggage and complaints
- Any security considerations
TOCs may (at their discretion) let you bring your bike on the train, provided they’re easy to handle and don’t cause issues to other passengers. You may need to reserve a space for your bike
If you’re delayed 60 minutes or more, you’re entitled to either:
- A full refund for the affected part of your journey; or
- Continue your journey at the earliest opportunity, or at a more convenient later date.
In case you continue your journey, despite a delay, you’re entitled to compensation.
The minimum compensation for delays is:
- 25% of the ticket price for a delay of 60 to 119 minutes
- 50% of the ticket price for a delay of at least 120 minutes
Your compensation will be repaid to the same method you bought your tickets with, within one month from the date you claim.
Assistance in cases of disruption
TOCs must inform you of train delays and cancellations as soon as information is available.
If you’re affected by any delay of at least 60 minutes, the TOC must offer you free refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time. If the delay keeps you overnight, you’re also entitled to a free hotel (or similar) including transport between the train station and your accommodation.
If the train is blocked on the track, the TOC must arrange transport from the train to the station, or to an alternative departure point or to the final destination of the service, where and when physically possible. If the train service can’t be continued, the TOC must organise alternative transport as soon as possible.
TOCs must generally respond to any complaints within one month. If longer, they’ll need to tell you when you can expect a reply – within a period of less than three months from the date of your complaint.
Note – Scope, Exemptions and Additional Schemes
Some European Union Member States may choose to exclude some of your rights under the RPRR. In this case, you may not be entitled to the same level of protection as you would be under the RPRR as applicable in the UK. This will most likely affect you when it comes to your right to compensation.
The law allows member states to apply exemptions to domestic rail services, urban, suburban and regional services, and rail services of which a significant part is operated outside the European Union. Although many states have not granted exemptions, please do keep in mind that some trips are not covered.
That said, you may be able to benefit from a local compensation scheme, either in place or on top of the European rail passenger rights. Whether you can benefit from them may depend on the type of train you use and the type of ticket you hold.