COVID-19: Consumer advice for bus and rail travel at March 2020
In light of the latest COVID-19 travel disruption, the European Consumer Centre Ireland is looking at what rights have changed for bus/coach and rail services passengers at present.
The European Consumer Centre Ireland (ECC Ireland) currently receives an exceptional volume of consumer enquiries about international travel entitlements, to which we are responding as quickly as we can. In an effort to highlight the most important information relevant to Irish consumers with respect to the ongoing Coronavirus-related travel disruptions within Europe and beyond, please read our general consumer advice before you travel here.
Many travel operators and transport providers are working around the clock to support customers and doing their utmost to offer flexible booking policies and some form of redress at this time. If, however, you are encountering difficulties in communicating with your transport or holiday provider or are experiencing difficulties in securing a refund or other redress options following your flights and other services being cancelled, we compiled these frequently asked questions and answers that you may find useful.
Q: What happens if the rail service I booked is no longer operating?
A: The European Union law that applies to the rights of rail passengers, (EC) No 1371 / 2007, does not, at present, exempt railway operators from fulfilling their obligations even when cancellations of railways services are caused by circumstances linked to Covid-19.
The following entitlements still apply:
In advance of the purchase of a rail ticket and during the rail journey, rail passengers should be advised on:
- likely disruptions or delays services due to security and passenger safety issues
- if services are discontinued, a public announcement must be made before it is implemented.
Please note: Concrete information on disruptions and rerouting at the earliest opportunity may under the circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak imply considerable delay, uncertainty and operational problems.
A refund of the ticket price is due in case of 60+ minutes delays.
For delays of 60+ minutes re-routing should be offered as below:
- under comparable transport conditions
- at the earliest opportunity of the rail service
- at a time / date of the rail passenger’s convenience.
Please note: Reimbursement and re-routing are mutually exclusive and the passenger is only entitled to one, and should be given a choice to opt for either of these upon cancellation of the service.
In case of rail delays of 60+ minutes includes:
- Free meals and refreshments.
- Accommodation where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary.
- Transport to / from the railway station or to / from the alternative departure point or to the final destination.
Rail passengers opting for re-routing only also have the right to compensation as follows:
- For delays of 60-119 minutes: 25% of the ticket price.
- For delays of 120+ minutes: 50% of the ticket price.
Q: What rights are applicable to disruption of bus and coach services at present?
A: For bus and coach services specifically, only severe weather conditions allow for exemptions regarding the provision of accommodation for stranded passengers. Therefore the following rights are not affected, according to EU Regulation 181 / 2011.
Information should be given from bus and coach carriers and at terminals on:
- any cancellations or departure and arrival delays in advance or during the journey.
- delays and / or uncertainties before offering passengers a choice between continuation of the re-routing and reimbursement.
In addition, for scheduled regular bus journeys of 250+ km and delays of 120+ minutes, passengers have the right to choose between:
Re-routing or continuation of the journey via alternative route or service, at the earliest opportunity, under comparable conditions
A return at no extra cost to the first point of departure set out in the transport contract, at the earliest opportunity
A full refund of the ticket price
For cancellations or 90+ minutes delays of long-distance services of 3+ hours:
- Free snacks, meals or refreshments on bus or in terminal.
- Free accommodation for up to 2 nights at a maximum rate of €80 / night, if overnight stays are necessary.
- Transport to accommodation and return to the terminal.
Compensation for cancellations is due as follows:
- 50% of the ticket price, and
- Only if the carrier fails to offer passengers a choice between reimbursement and re-routing.
- Concrete information on disruptions and rerouting at the earliest opportunity may under the circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak imply considerable delay, uncertainty and operational problems.
- The rights to re-routing or reimbursement, care and compensation do not apply to domestic services in: Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia.
- Reimbursement and re-routing are mutually exclusive and the passenger is only entitled to one, and should be given a choice to opt for either of these upon cancellation of the service.
For more details on transport and mobility measures implemented by the European Union Member States and beyond, please read here.
Consumer advice and information about COVID-19 related travel restrictions in relation to specific destinations and modes of transport is changing rapidly. Before you travel, read our general consumer advice here.
If you are based in Ireland and encounter any difficulties with securing a refund in any of the above cases or you would like to make sure what your entitlements are, you are welcome to contact ECC Ireland via our contact page here. As part of the European Consumer Centres Network, ECC Ireland has access to multilingual, in-country teams that are able to liaise with traders on behalf of Irish consumers for these types of cancellations and not only. Click here to find out about our services and how you can submit a complaint.
The service of the European Consumer Centre Ireland (ECC Ireland) remains fully operational with the exception of our call centre. At present, we advise Irish consumers to contact us by e-mail only via our contact page here: eccireland.ie / contact-us. Our staff is collectively and individually doing their best to respond to all queries and complaints as quickly as possible, and within 5 working days. However, due to exceptionally high volumes, we cannot always guarantee this. We will keep the public informed of all relevant consumer news and the latest on Irish consumers’ rights via our website eccireland.ie and on Twitter here: twitter.com / eccireland.
See our media coverage here for more information on consumer rights affected by the Coronavirus emergency from trusted Irish press and online media sources.
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