Following a liberalisation of Europe’s rail freight sector, the focus now moves to the opening up of the train passenger market. The movement of goods by rail opened up fully to cross border competition on 1 January. The European Parliament, Member States and the Commission are on the same wavelength over passengers, saying this part of the sector should be liberalised by 2010. But that would concern only international traffic.
National services, which move 95% of ticket-buyers, Member States are far more reluctant to fix a deadline for. Brussels shares that feeling. Only the parliament is pushing for a date. MEPs will hold a vote this Thursday, on whether or not to demand national passenger rail liberalisation by 2017.
The law proposal would oblige companies to give riders a quarter of their ticket money back if their train is an hour or more late, and half the price for a two-hour delay or more – if the operator is responsible for the lateness.