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Travelling by train: Passenger rights in Germany

  • After the regulation for the first domain of public transport enforcing the air passengers´ rights in 2006, the European Union now also enhances consumer protection regarding railway passengers. As to the Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations, unitary rules of compensation will apply throughout Europe - whether in the range of delays or cancellation of trains or even in case of train accident. In addition, the railway companies are obliged to inform passengers of their rights and obligations and to establish complaint boards according to the regulation that will be directly applicable in all EU Member States as from 3rd of December 2009.

    Therefore, the regulation constitutes a further step towards a liberalisation of the Single European Transport Market and a harmonization of legislation that has been partly different from state to state until today. It reverts to the White Paper ”European transport policy for 2010: time to decide” (COM (2001) 370) submitted on the 12th of September 2001, thus corresponding regulations for bus and ship travel are to be developed throughout the following years to strengthen the protection of consumers and of the environment within the whole European transport system.

    The regulation is part of the so-called third railway package in the railway sector. This package is supposed to encourage competition in cross-border passenger transportation as well as to standardise the locomotive driving license throughout the EU. It will replace some providers´ voluntary commitment, e.g. the Charter on Rail Passenger Services on EU-level as well as the customer charter of the Deutsche Bahn (German railway operator) on national level.

    Basically, national as well as international train journeys within Europe will be affected by this regulation. However, the individual member states may, on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis, grant an exemption on their national railway traffic for a period no longer than five years, which may be renewed twice for a maximum of five years on each occasion.

    However, the following articles of the regulation have to be applied imperatively in the sector of national and cross-border railway traffic from December onwards: availability of tickets, through tickets and reservations (art. 9), liability for passengers and luggage (art. 11), insurance (art. 12), right to transport of passengers with reduced mobility (art. 19), information on accessibility of rail services (art. 20,1) and passengers’ personal security (art. 26).

    Example: You travel from Berlin to Warsaw: In the evening, after experiencing a short walking tour through the city, you want to journey on to the Polish coast so you buy a ticket. Afterwards, you find out that the last train is cancelled and you will have to spend a night in the capital. If you had a through ticket from Berlin to the Polish coast, in other words, if you are on a cross-border journey, you would be paid for the hotel accommodation. In case Poland stipulates an exemption of the EU-regulation for national journeys, you will have to pay for it yourself. Thus, read up on the legal situation in the country you intend to visit.

    In Germany, the Parliament (“Deutscher Bundestag”) has passed the law on adaptation of railway directives to the regulation (EC) 1371/2007 on the 24th of April 2009, upon which the Federal Council (“Bundesrat”) agreed on the 15th of May. Consequently, the EU-regulation applies four months earlier, from the 29th of July onwards, to all national and crossborder rail journeys and services in Germany. Whilst more consumer-friendly national laws for the innercountry rail traffic may also be adopted, it is by no means allowed to derivate from the European Regulations in terms of cross-border rail journeys. In Germany, exceptions to the regulation are exclusively intended for local traffic.

    Short-distance trains: All exceptions concerning urban, suburban and regional rail passenger services will be pointed out in yellow boxes below. Again, local traffic services that are operated mainly due to historical interest or intended for touristic use like museum trains are excluded.

    You can download the brochure here

    European Consumer Centre Germany

    Sourse: European Consumer Centre Germany
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