Liberal Democrat MEP Phil Bennion has welcomed a ruling by the European Court of Justice that rail passengers are entitled to a partial ticket refund after a significant delay, even where that delay is due to "force majeure".
EU laws on rail passengers’ rights guarantee that a passenger facing a delay of an hour or more can request a partial refund of the ticket price.
Compensation must be at least 25% of the fare paid for a delay of between 60 and 119 minutes and 50% for a delay of 120 minutes or more.
However, train companies often avoid paying compensation by claiming that the delay was due to circumstances beyond the company's control such as bad weather, ‘the wrong sort of snow,’ or industrial action by its workforce.
But in a ruling yesterday, the EU’s highest court has banned this exemption.
Phil Bennion MEP, Lib Dem EU Transport Spokesperson, commented:
"The EU courts are on the right track in standing up for the rights of the passengers."
"Force majeure appears to have been abused by train companies too often in the past, but now they will no longer be able to simply dismiss delay claims as 'out of their control.'
“This is a very significant ruling by the EU's top court backing passengers. It should put an end to train operators denying compensation because of the wrong sort of snow, the wrong sort of leaves or any other sometimes far-fetched excuse.
“It is entirely reasonable that train companies should have to pay at least some compensation for delays over an hour.”