Members' Research Service By / June 4, 2018

Rail passengers’ rights and obligations in the EU [EU Legislation in Progress]

The first step the EU took to strengthen the rights of passengers in rail and other modes of transport was the adoption of the 2001 White Paper on EU transport policy for 2010.

© Monkey Business / Fotolia

Written by Damiano Scordamaglia and Maria Niestadt (7th edition, updated on 12.7.2021),

In 2007, the EU established a set of basic rights for rail passengers, which became applicable at the end of 2009. These rights provide for all passengers, including those with reduced mobility, a harmonised minimum level of protection, information and assistance. Reports have concluded that the implementation of these rights, although relatively smooth, is not done uniformly across the EU. Moreover, other shortcomings have prevented these rights from being used to their full potential. In September 2017, the European Commission presented a new proposal to address these issues and to strike a new balance between keeping rail operators competitive and providing adequate passenger protection. The European Parliament adopted its first-reading position on this proposal on 15 November 2018. For its part, the Council adopted its general approach on 2 December 2019, under the Finnish Presidency. Interinstitutional negotiations began at the end of January 2020, and on 1 October 2020, under the Germany Presidency, Council and Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the text. On 29 April 2021, the European Parliament voted in favour of the agreed text as adopted by the Council. The new rules were published in the Official Journal of the EU on 17 May 2021. They will apply in principle to all international and domestic rail journeys and services in the EU from 7 June 2023. However, Member States may exempt domestic rail services for a limited time.


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on rail passengers’ rights and obligations
Committee responsible: Transport and Tourism (TRAN) COM(2017) 548
Rapporteur: Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D, Poland) 2017/0237(COD)
Shadow rapporteurs: Brice Hortefeux (EPP, France)
José Ramón Bauzá Díaz (Renew Europe, Spain)
Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg (Greens/EFA, Germany)
Roman Haider (ID, Austria)
Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR, Poland)
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL, Portugal)
Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)
Procedure completed. Regulation (EU) 2021/782
OJ L 172, 17.5.2021, pp. 1–52.

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