Your rights when you travel by train
- What are my rights when travelling by rail?
- Travel services covered
- Rules on train services in Ireland and the EU
- Cancellations and delays (applies in Ireland)
- Supports for passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility
- You were injured in a train accident
- Your luggage was lost or damaged
- Making a claim for compensation
- Making a complaint
- More information
What are my rights when travelling by rail?
You have passenger rights when you travel on most trains in the EU.
These cover delays, cancellations, lost luggage and injury.
Travel operators must:
- Give you information about your rights and what help you are entitled to
- Treat you and other passengers fairly and equally
- Resolve issues caused by delays or cancellations
Travel operators include transport companies (which run trains) and companies that operate terminals such as train stations.
Travel services covered
You have certain rights under EU rules when travelling by train within the EU.
If you are travelling by train in Ireland, Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) has its own Customer Charter. It sets out the standards of service you should expect and deals with issues such as ticket refunds, compensation payments and complaints procedures.
Rules on train services in Ireland and the EU
When you are travelling by train in Ireland and other EU countries, a train company must:
- Make it easy for you to buy tickets
- Ensure your personal safety in train stations and on trains
- Provide compensation if it is responsible for losing or damaging your luggage
- Provide compensation if you die or are injured in a train accident
- Provide information on the accessibility of rail services – see ‘Supports for passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility’ below
- Not discriminate against passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility
Mandatory EU rules for rail services
There are additional EU rules to protect passengers using international rail services (for example, Dublin to Belfast services). While not all of these rules are mandatory, some are, which means that train companies must follow them.
Rules on tickets
Tickets must be available from at least one of these points of sale:
- Ticket offices or ticket machines at main train stations
- Phone, internet or any other widely available information technology
- On board trains
If there is no ticket office or ticket machine at a station, there should be a notice to tell you where and how to buy tickets.
Rules on luggage
Train companies must also follow rules covering their responsibility (liability) for passengers and luggage (see ‘You were injured in a train accident’ and ‘Your luggage was lost or damaged’).
Non-Mandatory EU rules for rail services
Some other EU rules are not mandatory, which means that EU Member States can decide to exclude some of their train services from the rules.
This can apply to local, commuter and intercity domestic train services as well as international trains that start or finish their journeys outside the EU.
These include rules on:
- Travel information
- Cancellations and delays (see ‘Cancellations and delays’ below).
Travel information (applies in Ireland)
When you buy a ticket, you must be given clear information about:
- General conditions that apply to the journey
- Timetables and conditions for the lowest fares and the fastest trips
- Anything that is likely to cancel or delay services
- What onboard services are available
- How to claim for lost luggage and make a complaint
During the journey, you must be given clear information about:
- Onboard services
- The next station
- Security and safety issues
- Connecting services
- Delays and cancellations in real time
- Your rights if there are delays or cancellations
Cancellations and delays (applies in Ireland)
If your departure is delayed or cancelled, you are entitled to:
- Refund or rerouting
- Care and assistance
- Compensation (see ‘Making a claim for compensation’ below)
During your trip, the train company must let you know if there are any expected delays. If your train is delayed or cancelled, they must also give you real time information and provide you with information on your rights (where necessary).
Refund or re-routing
If your journey is cancelled or is expected to be delayed by at least 1 hour, you should be offered a choice between:
Getting a refund
- You can get a refund of the full cost of the ticket for the parts of your journey you have not made. You can also get a refund for the parts of the journey you have already made (if you are not going to continue to your destination). You can also get a free ticket to take you back to the first point of your departure, as soon as possible.
Continuing your journey as planned or re-routing
- You can continue or re-route under similar transport conditions to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later, more convenient date. (Similar transport conditions means for example, another train service is available or you are offered a bus connect).
Care and assistance
If it seems likely that your train will be more than 60 minutes late, the train company must provide ‘care and assistance’ free of charge. This can include:
- Meals and refreshments (for example, teas, coffees and non-alcoholic beverages) that are suitable for the waiting time and if available on the train or in the station
- Accommodation, and transport between the station and accommodation, where a stay of more than 1 night is necessary.
- Alternative travel arrangements
Exceptions when you will not be compensated
You have no right to a refund or any compensation if you were told of the delay before you bought your ticket or if it was due to circumstances outside the train company’s control.
Supports for passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility
If you have a disability or reduced mobility, you have specific rights when you travel by train.
You have the right to:
- Be treated fairly and equally
- You should be given information about your rights and the accessibility of the service
- You have the right to get help if you need it
You also have the following extra rights:
Your right to access and a ticket
You have the right to get a ticket, book a seat and use transport services in the same way as other passengers. You should not be discriminated against or charged extra.
You can only be refused travel if the service cannot be provided safely. For example, due to the layout of the train, the boarding points, or the type of seats or luggage racks.
In most cases, if the train company refuses you a ticket or a reservation, or requires you to bring a helper, they must immediately tell you why. If you ask for written confirmation, they must send it to you within 5 working days.
Your right to assistance
Assistance means extra help because you have a disability or reduced mobility. You must tell the train company what help you will need before you travel. The train company should then give the assistance free of charge.
The following conditions apply:
- You must give at least 48 hours’ notice before you travel. Irish Rail asks for 24 hours’ notice.
- You must arrive at the station at the time stated. The train company cannot tell you to arrive more than 1 hour before the departure time or the check-in time.
- If they do not give you a specific arrival time, you should arrive 30 minutes before the departure time.
You can get a refund or re-routing if you have a ticket or a reservation and:
- You told the train company about your specific needs
- You are not allowed to travel because of your disability or reduced mobility
Your mobility equipment is lost or damaged
If your mobility equipment (or other equipment) is lost or damaged during your journey and the train company is at fault, you are entitled to compensation.
Your Europe has more information about rights for travellers with reduced mobility. Irish Rail also provides information on rail accessibility and a guide for rail passengers with disabilities (pdf).
You were injured in a train accident
If you are injured in a train accident and the train company is responsible, you and your dependants are entitled to compensation. You have the right to an upfront payment within 15 days of the incident to cover your immediate needs. This applies if the accident took place while you were on the train or while you were boarding or leaving the train.
Your luggage was lost or damaged
If your luggage is lost or damaged, and the train company is responsible, you are entitled to:
- Compensation of up to €1,400 for damaged or lost hand luggage, including animals
- Compensation of between €300 and €1,200 per piece if registered luggage is lost or damaged. This is unless it was due to circumstances beyond the control of the train company. (Registered luggage is extra, heavy or oversized luggage placed in a designated area of the train). Registered luggage is considered lost when it has not been delivered within 14 days of the scheduled delivery date.
Making a claim for compensation
If your trip has been delayed and you choose to continue your journey as planned, or accept re-routing, to your destination, you may still be entitled to compensation:
|Compensation as % of ticket price||Length of delay|
|25%||Between 1 hour and 2 hours|
|50%||More than 2 hours|
Making a complaint
If you are not satisfied with how a train company has handled an issue, you should complain to them directly.
Contact the train company to find out exactly how to make a complaint to them.
Follow their instructions to make a complaint. You must make the complaint within 2 months of the incident. You must receive a reply within 1 month, telling you whether the complaint has been accepted or rejected or is still being considered.
If you are not satisfied with the response, you can take your complaint to the National Transport Authority (NTA).
The law covering rail passenger rights
The law covering rail passenger rights is set out in Regulation (EC) 1371/2007, which was brought into Irish legislation by the European Communities (Rail Passengers’ Rights and Obligations) Regulations 2010 (pdf).
National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for enforcing rail passenger legislation in Ireland. It is the National Enforcement Body (NEB) in Ireland.
The NTA has more information about your rail passenger rights.
Your Europe has more information about EU passenger rights.