Travelling by train in the European Union: what are your rights?

If you travel by train in France as in the European Union (EU), you have rights (information, assistance, reimbursment, compensation) in case of train delay or cancellation de train. Regulation 1371/2007 applies to all national and cross-border train travels with a minimum delay of 1 hour on arrival.

Booking a train ticket: practical advice

  • Check connection times especially if you have to change stations in a big city and you carry heavy luggage or you are with young children. Please note, the train company cannot be held liable for any delay in the public transport system (bus, metro etc.)
  • If you buy your ticket on a foreign network, find out before departure about the conditions of use of the tickets: registration at the train station, ticket validation, presentation of the payment card used for the purchase of the ticket during checks in the train…
  • If you travel beyond French borders make sure you take your valid passport or identity card with you. Depending on the journey, there may not be a systematic control on departure but customs or police officers may carry out checks during the journey.
  • Minors are also required to travel with a valid identity document and, if they live in France, with an official authorization to leave the country if they are not accompanied by one of their parents. Further information on www.service-public.fr
  • Some travels can be subjected to an electronic ticket but others cannot. In this case, you will have to pick it up at the train station. Remember to check before departure.

Train delay: reimbursement or compensation?

Your train has been cancelled or arrived more than an hour late? You have the choice between:

  • A “rerouting” which means taking another train to reach your destination, without extra charges, in similar conditions and in the shortest possible time;
  • Be refunded of the ticket price. In case of connection, you are also entitled to a return free of charge to you departure station.

If you have not been refunded, you can get a compensation of:

  • 25% of the ticket price for a delay of 1 to 2 hours on arrival;
  • 50% of the ticket price for a delay of more than 2 hours on arrival.

No compensation is due if the delay was known before the purchase of the ticket.

Train delay or cancellation: ask for assistance!

In case of a delay of more than 1 hour or a train cancellation, you are entitled to an assistance consisting of:

  • Meals and drinks in reasonable quantity in view of the delay,
  • An accommodation and a means of informing relatives if the train delay or cancellation prevents the continuation of the journey on the same date,
  • A transport by another means (e.g. taxi, bus) to the nearest station when the train is durably stopped in the middle of the rail.

Be careful! Accommodation and means of communication are not due if the train delay or cancellation results from:

  • Case of force majeure (bad weather, degradation due to an act of a third party…)
  • The traveler’s fault
  • Fault of a third party (with the exception of other transport or railway operating companies).

Other rights

  • Compensation in case of physical injury, death or luggage loss following a train accident.
  • Access, information and payment for reduced mobility passengers.

Train travel sold by an airline

Example: Your journey Lyon-Berlin with a connection in Paris is composed of a train trip from Lyon to Paris then a flight from Paris to Berlin. The whole trip is sold by the airline.

If you have a train trip sold by an airline, do not forget to check in with the airline office present in the departure station. Otherwise, you risk to be considered a “no show” and the rest of you trip will be cancelled.

Your train luggage remains under your responsibility

During the entire journey, your train luggage remains under your responsibility. The carrier is only responsible for checked luggage.

Before departure, carefullylabel your suitcases and hand luggage: in France, any suitcase that is not identifiable may be destroyed and without compensation possibility. Think also about taking a photo of the contents of your suitcase, which will allow its identification in case of loss.

Our advice:

  • Avoid valuables in the luggage that will be place out of your sight.
  • Keep an eye on your luggage during stops.
  • If you have forgotten an object on the train, contact the Lost and Found department at the final destination station.
  • In case of theft, file a complaint at the police station. Think about contacting your credit card insurance or travel insurance if you have one.

Whom to contact in case of problems during a train journey?