In the previous article of the 'Consumer Reader' section, you were introduced to consumers’ air transport rights under a rapidly growing Covid-19 pandemic. 

We will now tell what railway carriers need to do in order to meet the requirements of the current regulation against their customers.

1.      Right to be informed


Before selling a ticket, railway undertakings and ticket vendors must provide passengers, upon request, with pre-journey information - including information on any activities likely to disrupt or delay services. Railway undertakings must also provide passengers with information during the journey – including information on delays, security and safety issues. Furthermore, where railway undertakings and the competent authorities decide to terminate the railway service, they must make the decision public in advance. Details of the right to travel information are set out in Article 8 and Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1371/2011.


2.      Right to reimbursement or continuation of the journey / re-routing

Where it can reasonably be expected that the delay in the arrival at the final destination will be more than 60 minutes, passengers have the choice between reimbursement of the ticket price or to continue the journey or re-routing. In particular:


  1. the right to the reimbursement concerns the cost of the ticket for the part or parts of the journey not made and for the parts of the journey already made if the journey is no longer serving the purpose for which the passenger was planning it, together with (where relevant) a return service to the first point of departure;
  2. continuation of the journey or re-routing have to take place under comparable transport conditions. At the passenger’s choice, they have to take place either at the earliest opportunity or at another point in time at his/her convenience.

As regards continuation of the journey/ re-routing, and as explained above, “the earliest opportunity” may under the circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak imply considerable delay, and the same may apply to the availability of concrete information on such “opportunity” given the high level of uncertainty affecting rail traffic.

First, passengers should be informed about delays and/or uncertainties when offering them the choice between the two possibilities.

Second, should a passenger choose nonetheless continuation of the journey or re-routing at the earliest opportunity, the carrier should be considered to have fulfilled its information obligation towards the passenger if it communicated on its own initiative, as soon as possible and in good time, the train available for continuation or rerouting.

3.      Right to assistance

In the case of a delay in arrival or departure, passengers have the right to receive information on the situation and the estimated departure and arrival time as soon as this information becomes available. In case of a delay exceeding 60 minutes, they also have the right to receive meals and refreshments within reasonable limits; accommodation where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary where and when physically possible; transport to the railway station or to the alternative departure point or to the final destination, where and when physically possible, if the train is blocked on the track. Details are set out in Article 18(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007.

According to the Regulation, the railway undertaking is obliged to fulfil the above obligations even when the cancellation of a train is caused by circumstances such those linked to Covid-19.

The aim of the regulation is to provide adequate assistance, in particular, for passengers waiting for re-routing as soon as possible under Article 16. Assistance to persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility must be adapted to the needs of those passengers.

4.      Right to compensation

Where passengers have not opted for reimbursement but ask for the continuation of the journey or re-routing, passengers have also the right to compensation. For delays of 60 to 119 minutes the compensation amounts to 25% of the ticket price, whereas for delays of 120 minutes and more the compensation is 50% of the ticket price. Details are set out in Article 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007,

Unlike in other transport modes, the existence of extraordinary circumstances, if any, does not affect the right to compensation in cases of delays (including those entailed by cancellations).


The rights of passengers in a situation of a pandemic of Covid-19 in air transport can be seen in the previous article of the section Consumer Reader, WHAT ARE YOUR AIR TRANSPORT RIGHTS UNDER A COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

About consumer rights for bus and water transport in a pandemic situation by Covid-19, you can read in the next article in the section Consumer Reader.

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Published on 02.04.2020 Back to news