CHAPTER 5: CONSUMERS |
115. The consumer's perspective should be a primary
consideration in the further development of the international
passenger rail services market. This perspective is often overlooked
when regulatory matters are being discussed, but there is a Regulation
which attends specifically to the rights and obligations of international
rail passengers (see Box 8).
Regulation 1371/2007 on rail passengers'
rights and obligations
|The Regulation on rail passengers' rights and obligations entered into force in December 2009. It is part of a suite of measures designed to safeguard passengers' rights across all modes of transport.
The Regulation makes provision for passengers to be given relevant information about their journey and to allow them to purchase tickets either from ticket offices, selling machines, on board trains or through widely available information technology.
In the case of delays or cancellations passengers are entitled to compensation, alternative transport to their destination and reasonable accommodation and refreshments if necessary. The Regulation also sets rules about compensation for loss of luggage, access for persons of restricted mobility and ensuring the personal security of passengers.
116. The Commission's White Paper includes proposals
to enhance passenger rights further, as well as making them consistent
across all transport modes. These include plans to harmonise the
interpretation of EU law on passenger rights as well as to produce
a Charter of Basic Rights applicable across transport modes. It
also envisages measures covering multimodal journeys with integrated
tickets under a single purchase contract, and plans to improve
journeys for passengers with reduced mobility.
117. Some of our witnesses supported the Commission's
plans to strengthen the Regulation in the context of harmonising
passenger rights across modes.
Others disagreed, with Deutsche Bahn considering that the current
Regulation struck a reasonable balance between passenger protection
and economic burdens on operators. It felt, as High Speed 1 did,
that raising the level of rights would have a detrimental effect
on the launch of new services.
118. In principle, we support the approximation
of passenger rights across all transport modes, as proposed in
the Commission's White Paper. We will look forward to scrutinising
the proposal when it is published.
119. Although one of the Regulation's aims was
to make purchasing tickets easier for rail passengers, we received
evidence that problems are still common when buying cross-border
tickets. Professor Vickerman considered that the lack of
convenient through-booking and integrated ticketing services discouraged
The Man in Seat Sixty-One cited a number of potential difficulties,
including identification and availability of the cheapest tickets,
booking online in another Member State and the lack of information
on the timetabling of interconnecting services. He argued that
all of these problems would frustrate would-be rail passengers
and discourage modal shift.
120. The Commission, alive to the importance
of this issue, adopted a Regulation applying the Telematics Applications
for Passenger Services (TAP) TSI on 5 May 2011.
This requires operators to standardise their data on fares and
timetables to ensure maximum interoperability and to ease their
exchange between operators throughout the EU, including ticket
vendors. Operators will also be legally obliged to place such
data in the public domain. The Commission's White Paper also contains
a proposal for a complementary measure that would require operators
to approximate their IT systems in order to allow easier data
transfers between them, which could be used in different rail
booking and ticketing systems throughout Europe.
121. The Minister argued that any solution should
be led by the private sector. She told us that none of the rail
companies had "come looking for a Government solution",
and noted that there were commercial incentives to encourage such
She noted that Eurostar had already worked with partners through
Railteam to make
purchasing through-tickets to continental destinations easier,
as well as working with UK operators to increase links with their
Eurostar told us that through-ticketing was an important issue,
and confirmed that it had worked with SCNB, SNCF and Dutch national
railways, as well as with other partners in the EU, to develop
this matter. However, it stressed that any new service would have
to be commercially sound and avoid any "white elephant"
IT systems. It agreed that a solution could best emanate from
the private sector.
Deutsche Bahn thought progress was best achieved through the application
of the TAP TSI and through market, rather than Commission, initiatives.
122. Other witnesses were more sceptical about
the likelihood of market-led progress in this area. Professor Vickerman
suggested that the market might not be sufficiently large to take
the lead. He said that, other than Eurostar and Thalys, even on
international trains the proportion of those actually crossing
the border was quite small, although he acknowledged that this
situation was somewhat "circular".
The Man in Seat Sixty-One was more optimistic. He suggested that
commercial interest was growing in this area in spite of commercial
operators having previously seen rail ticketing as "niche,
and a black art". He argued that implementation of the TAP
TSI would help, as all undertakings are required to present data
in the same format, but that it would still have to be connected
and made available through one source, such as National Rail Enquiries
in the UK. At present, it was difficult to obtain permission to
connect to an undertaking's ticket information, whereas domestic
operators in the United Kingdom were legally obliged to make such
data available to National Rail Enquiries.
123. The provision of pan-European through-ticketing
is crucial for developing the European rail market and achieving
greater competition. The Commission has a key role to play in
facilitating cooperation between operators, including through
the Telematic Applications for Passenger Services (TAP) Technical
Standard for Interoperability (TSI). We welcome strongly the adoption
of the TAP TSI as a fundamental building block of pan-European
ticketing and support the additional measures contained in the
Transport White Paper.
Convention concerning International
Carriage by Rail (COTIF)/International Convention for the Transportation
of Passengers (CIV)
124. Buying a through ticket is one complication
of travelling long distances by rail. Another is the number of
connections required and the interaction between those services,
which may involve several modes of transport. Delay or cancellations
of one section can have severe consequences for onward connections.
In theory, a degree of protection is offered by the Convention
for the transportation of passengers.
The Convention concerning International
Carriage by Rail (COTIF) and the Convention for the Transportation
of Passengers (CIV)
|The Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) was signed in 1985. It established the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (known by its French acronym, OTIF), which included 45 participating countries from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. It is responsible for developing international railway measures, including the measure described below. The EU acceded to OTIF on 1 July 2011.
The Convention for the Transportation of Passengers (again, known by its French acronym, CIV) seeks to offer a similar level of protection to rail passengers as enjoyed by air travellers under the Warsaw Convention and sea travellers under the Athens Convention. Under the CIV, transport carriers are required to deliver the passenger and their luggage to their destination, as shown on their ticket, and to provide alternatives in the case of missed or cancelled connections.
125. The Man in Seat Sixty-One stressed the importance
to rail travellers of making onward connections, and identified
problems with the current operation of the CIV. He noted that
the CIV was written during a previous railway age and had not
adapted for the new deregulated rail market. In particular, he
pointed to problems concerning the purchase of multiple tickets
for international journeys. The CIV applies theoretically to these
but it sometimes proves difficult to obtain redress for missed
connections. He argued that the problem had become worse in recent
years because there were now fewer long-distance through-trains,
with more connections required as a result. This had resulted
in rail operators issuing several non-refundable, non-flexible
tickets, rather than one single, flexible ticket to cover the
whole journey. Increased liberalisation has also meant that more
operators are now involved.
Ivor Morgan echoed these concerns and argued that the CIV provisions
should be clarified in order to remove these grey areas.
Professor Vickerman thought it was difficult to apply CIV
to multi-modal journeys as the existence of separate tickets,
and thus separate contracts, created a "murky area of liability".
The Minister argued that the current regime was adequate and did
"not see at the moment that there is a gap in passenger protection
that needs filling with a change in the rules".
126. The application of, and interaction between,
consumer rights protection via the CIV and the Passenger Rail
Rights Regulation is opaque and in need of clarification, especially
regarding the issue of multiple tickets for a single journey.
This is especially so as easier ticket purchasing following the
implementation of the TAP TSI will result in a greater proliferation
of tickets, albeit sometimes issued by a single ticket vendor.
127. We recommend that the Government work
with their partners in the Intergovernmental Organisation for
International Carriage by Rail to clarify the application of the
Convention for the Transportation of Passengers to international
rail passenger journeys in the EU. The definition of a single
contract of carriage should be made clear, to outline what guarantees
a passenger can expect with respect to onward connections.
204 Regulations 261/2004 and 1107/2006 concern the
rights of air travellers; Regulation 1177/2010 concerns the rights
of those travelling by sea and inland waterway; and Regulation
181/2011 concerns the rights of bus and coach passengers. Back
COM (2011) 144, p. 23 Back
IRAO and Passenger Focus Back
Deutsche Bahn and HS1 Back
Professor Vickerman Back
The Man in Seat Sixty-One Back
Commission Regulation 454/2011 on the technical specification
for interoperability relating to the subsystem 'telematics applications
for passenger services' of the trans-European rail system. This
TSI is related to Regulation 1371/2007 and obliges undertakings
to offer the lowest price and fastest connection. It also obliges
all undertakings to offer ticketing information in the same format,
thereby making it accessible to others. Back
COM (2011) 144, p. 24 Back
Q 295 Back
Railteam is an alliance of European high speed rail operators,
including Eurostar, Deutsche Bahn, SNCF and SNCB. Back
Q 295 Back
Q 83 Back
Q 125. However the Man in Seat Sixty-One believed (as per his
written evidence) that there were problems with the operation
of Deutsche Bahn's online ticket booking system in this respect. Back
Q 40 Back
Q 250 Back
Q 239 Back
Ivor Morgan Back
Q 26 Back
Q 295 Back