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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
EU rail compensation deal hope
Eurostar train between London and coast
Eurostar users would be the first UK passengers to benefit
The system of compensation for rail travellers who experience delays could be streamlined under EU plans.

Cash refunds instead of vouchers and mandatory minimum rates of compensation have been outlined by the European Parliament transport committee.

Under the plans a one-hour delay would entitle passengers to a 25% refund. Currently each rail company sets its own rates of compensation.

The Rail Passengers Council (RPC) welcomed the move.

"At the moment, the system is far too complicated and not very flexible," an RPC spokesperson said.

"Under the terms of carriage, the minimum compensation is 20%, so obviously we welcome the proposed improvement."

Under the transport committee's plans, passengers delayed by 60 minutes or more would be entitled to a cash refund of 25% of the cost of that leg of their journey.

We already go much further than these planned EU rules
Eurostar spokesman

This would rise to 50% for delays of two hours or more and 75% for three hours or longer.

The RPC said UK firms should acknowledge the plans by raising compensation levels to 50% for a 30-minute delay and 100% for an hour or more.

Several UK firms say they already offer more generous compensation than the European proposals.

Virgin Trains offers a total refund for passengers delayed for more than two hours.

"We consider every case on an individual basis, so there is often a case for providing cash refunds as well," said a Virgin spokesman.

A Eurostar spokesman said their compensation scheme, whereby passengers receive a complete refund after a one-hour delay, was used as a blueprint for the committee's proposals.

"But we already go much further than these planned EU rules," the spokesman added.


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