MINIMUM levels of compensation for passengers delayed during international journeys within the European Union, Switzerland and Norway came into force with the December 12 timetable change.

The compensation scheme was drawn up by UIC and CER, and specifies that passengers holding tickets for cross-border journeys costing more than €50 will be entitled to a refund of 20% of the ticket price if a daytime service is delayed by more than 60 min or a night train is more than 120min late.

The €50 minimum fare includes seat reservations and any supplements paid, but rail passes, special trains and motorail services are excluded from the scheme. Refunds will be issued as travel vouchers rounded to the nearest €0·10 and valid for one year with the undertaking which sold the ticket. Applications for refunds can be made to any undertaking involved in the trip, and will be processed by the ticket seller.

The companies responsible for the delay will generally have to meet the costs, and there will be a global inter-railway settlement process at the end of the year.

The scheme specifies a minimum level of compensation, but operators are free to offer higher levels of compensation if they wish.

The scheme can be extended to cover travel to and from additional countries through bilateral agreements.