The move is the last major obstacle towards the completion of the EU’s third railway package.
By approving a compromise package of measures worked out in early summer, MEPs have effectively brought to an end a three-year negotiation process which involves four directives. They cover the opening of international passenger rail serves to competition from 2010, a system to certify the health and competence of train drivers, compensation rights for passengers whose trains are late or cancelled, and the bill of passenger rights.
However, both the bill of rights and the compensation scheme do not go as far as rail campaigners had wanted, and in some cases passenger rights will be delayed for 17 years.
The obligatory compensation scheme will mean 25% of a fare is refunded if the train is an hour late and 50% if it is two hours or more. But to protect the rail companies of central and eastern Europe, the compensation scheme will be limited to cross-border services.
The Belgian MEP Dirk Sterckx, who was one of the rapporteurs of the rail package, said: ‘By reaching this agreement, we have done all rail passers in the Union a service. ‘
This news story is taken from the October 2007 edition of T&E Bulletin.