Since December, the 4th 2009, every consumer travelling to another country member of the European Union (UE) have minimum rights
In case of delay or cancellation of my train in UE
Below one hour of delay, the train company does not have the legal obligation to refund anything to travellers. However, you can ask them anyway to try to get a goodwill gesture.
Over one hour delay, this time, the law commit them to several rules dealing with traveller compensation.
The law split the compensation rules in 2:
- You choose not to finish your trip
In this case, the train company has to offer and organise a free transportation to your departure location and to reimburse you the whole price you pay for your tickets (the delayed one but also the possible following correspondence ticket you decided not to use).
- You choose to finish your trip
To begin with, please note that to be accepted, your trip has to be continued within reasonable delays (which means in maximum 48h). If you are, in this case, you can ask for a refund dependant upon the ticket price of the delayed train and the duration of that delay.
For a delay from 60min to 119min, you can get a refund of 25% of the price you purchased your ticket.
For a delay of more that 120 min, you can get a refund of 50% of the price you purchased your ticket.
After your claim has been sent, the train company has one month to refund you. It can compensate you with a voucher or other services. However, if you clearly state it, the train company must refund you with cash.
Tips & Tricks
In order to facilitate your refunding process, ask for a written proof to the controllers or to the customer service desks. This document will help you to demonstrate your good faith effort during your claiming process. If some expenses are generated by this delay (food, communication, accommodations new ticket, emergency supplies, etc.) do not forget to ask and keep all invoices and receipt for each of them. Any expenses not justified by invoice will not be refunded. But note that not all expenses even proved by invoice are eligible.
To be noted
If a traveller has been informed of the delay or cancellation of the train before he bought his ticket, no compensation could be claimed. The train company should provide assistance to travellers (if this is materially possible). That means the train company should propose communication means and offer snacks, meal, and beverages in a sufficient quantity regarding the delay of the train. If the delay stops you in your trip for more than a day, the company must provide you an accommodation and some communication mean to inform your relatives.
If the train is blocked on the tracks for a significant time the company must put at your disposal another travelling mean to get you to the closest train station.
Accommodation and communication means are not obliged if the delay or the cancellation comes from:
- A force majeure case (Bad weather, deterioration from a third party…)
- A traveller responsibility
- A third party responsibility (except other transportation or railway exploitation companies)
By the way, some states & countries can decide to exclude their exclusively intern train services from this compensation & assistance commitments. So you should verify on your own what are the applicable rules for each country you are concerned in.
The rule also plans a transition period of 15 years. This derogation can be permanent for urban, suburban and regional transport services.
The specific case of the SNCF (French Railway)
In case of cancellation or delay of a national train (with no cross of a border), the French government chose not to apply (yet) the EU Regulation
The French Rail Company (SNCF) implements its own regulation for delay or cancellation called “Garantie Voyage”.
This guaranty foresees 6 commitments to all TGV and INTERCITES passengers:
Commitment to providing passengers with a real time information in stations, trains, and on the mobile application SNCF Director on the SNCF website.
if the passenger hasn’t been allocated a seat for a journey of over 90 minutes on a reservation-only train, SNCF will help him find a seat or, if there are none available, will pay compensation.
Delayed departure or reimbursement Guarantee
If the departure of the train is delayed by more than 1 hour or cancelled, SNCF will offer another travel option or refund the ticket.
If the passenger encounters a major problem during his/her journey, SNCF commits to providing care, finding a way to continue the journey and, if necessary, offer accommodation. SNCF in these situations will provide a drink, snack or meal, depending on the time of day.
If the train arrives more than 30 minutes late at destination, SNCF will inform passengers about their rights under the “Punctuality Guarantee” scheme and distribute the “Punctuality Guarantee” envelopes where applicable.
Thanks to this envelop the traveller can get the following compensation:
- 25% for a delay from 30 min to 2H
- 50% for a delay from 2H to 3H
- 75% for a delay of more than 3H
These compensations are available on all the trains excepting TER and the network around Paris (Transilien). Compensation is subject to the condition that SNCF is responsible for the delay.
The payment of the compensation is always done by voucher. If you have no use of such as you might not come back to France soon, do not hesitate to ask for a refund by bank transfer.
Commitment to answer any claim online, from the customer service within a maximum of 5 days if the passenger has an e-ticket.