The railway infrastructure manager is obliged to provide railway undertakings in real time with all information on connecting services operated by other undertakings, according to a Court of Justice ruling of 22 November 2012. Moreover, rail passengers must be given information on delays to or cancellations of trains which are main connecting services, whichever railway undertaking operates them
Elements of the case
The railway undertaking Westbahn Management operates passenger rail transport services on the Vienna-Salzburg line in Austria. ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG is the railway infrastructure manager in Austria and manages the major part of the Austrian rail network, including the Vienna-Salzburg line. It has at its disposal real-time data on the positions of all trains operating on the Austrian rail network it manages. The data is communicated to the various railway undertakings where it concerns those undertakings’ trains.
Westbahn requested ÖBB-Infrastruktur to provide it with real time data relating to trains of other railway undertakings, in order for it to be able to inform its passengers of the actual departure times of connecting trains. ÖBB-Infrastruktur refused, on the ground that it only transmitted data relating to the railway undertaking concerned.
Westbahn brought an application before Schienen-Control, the Austrian tribunal with jurisdiction to rule on disputes concerning the rail market. Schienen-Control asked for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice.
Passengers’ interests: right to information
In its judgment the Court of Justice stressed that, in order to observe the interests of passengers and the general objectives pursued by EU law, the information supplied to passengers must be of use to them. According to the Court, railwayundertakings are obliged to provide information relating to the main connecting services in real time.
The Court found further that that obligation relates to all main connecting services, both those of the railway undertaking concerned and those operated by other undertakings. A restrictive interpretation would hinder transfers by them. Passengers would be encouraged to give preference to large railway undertakings which would be in a position to provide them in real time with information relating to all stages of their journey.
As to the obligations of the railway infrastructure manager, the Court observed that, to ensure fair competition on the passenger rail transport market, it must be ensured that all railway undertakings are in a position to provide passengers with a comparable quality of service. Railway undertakings must therefore, be given information by the infrastructure manager in real time relating to the main connecting services operated by other railway undertakings.
Finally, the Court noted that information which is available on screens at the various stations cannot be regarded as being of a confidential or sensitive nature which would prevent its disclosure to the various railway undertakings concerned.
The full text of the judgment is published on the CURIA website on the day of delivery.
According to Article 28(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007, the railway undertakings reports on service quality standards shall be made available on the ERA website
Railways on track in implementing EU passenger rights laws / CER and CIT (2012)