Wednesday, September 28, 2005


The EU can turn anything into a complicated mess:
MEPs are set to adopt new rules on rail passengers, calling for minimum standards on compensation for both domestic and international journeys.

Parliamentarians also proposed deadlines for liberalisation of railways across Europe, and were to debate common criteria for train drivers in Tuesday's plenary session (27 September).

The parliamentary transport committee adopted several major amendments in the so-called Third Railway Package, proposed by the European Commission.

Belgian liberal MEP Dirk Sterckx, rapporteur on the rail passengers rights bill, had widened the scope of the legislation to domestic services, while the proposal from the Commission covers only international passengers.

He argues the original draft was confusing, as "passengers on the same train would fall under different rules", pointing to an example of people travelling from Brussels to Liverpool that would be covered by both international rules when sitting in Eurostar, and by different criteria for the domestic service from London to Liverpool.

Under the new rules, the railway services providers would also be considered responsible for wrong information on the internet or any leaflets on trains' timetables. They are also called upon to provide different ways of ticket distribution, without any additional charge for using internet or phone.

Passengers would be eligible to ask for compensation for the loss of luggage, delays, missed connections or cancellation of services, unless it was caused by exceptional weather conditions, natural disasters or the passengers themselves.

The minimum compensations for delays are supposed to cover 25 percent of the ticket's price for a 60 minute delay, 50 percent for 120 minutes and 75 percent for 180 minutes of delay.

The railways should also provide meals and overnight accommodation in cases of longer delays.

The proposal calls for better conditions for disabled persons and excludes fare discrimination for their accessibility of railway services.
Rules rule, in Europe anyway.


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