Coronavirus and international train journeys: this is what you need to know!

In most European countries, you are allowed to travel by train again. But the situation remains uncertain! What are the obligations of a railway company when you are stranded abroad? What should you pay attention to when accepting a voucher? What can you do if the railway company refuses to refund your money? On this page you can read everything you need to know about international train journeys in times of corona. 

How we can help you

The European Consumer Centre informs you about your consumer rights in the EU, provides free legal advice in cross-border disputes, and mediates if you and a railway company cannot work it out together. Our website offers information, tips and sample letters that will help you take the right steps.

Coronavirus and international train journeys: this is what you need to know! ECC Netherlands

Good to know

To which countries can I travel by train this summer?

Since 15 June, it is possible to travel to most countries in the European Union again. You can take the train across the border to countries such as Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Travelling to countries where the level of coronavirus cases is still high, such as the United Kingdom and Sweden, is not recommended for the time being. Read more about the most current travel advice on the website of the Central government.

However, the travel advice is not binding. If you do decide to travel to an area with a code orange or red advice, you will have to spend two weeks in home quarantine on your return.
 

 

#international-train-services

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Can a railway company refuse me if I do not wear a face mask?

You are required to wear a face mask on the train. This applies in the Netherlands, but also in other countries such as Belgium, France, Germany, and Spain. The railway company may deny you access to the train if you refuse to wear a face mask. In a number of countries, such as France, Germany and Belgium, it is compulsory to cover your mouth and nose at the station and on the platform. This can be done, for example, with a face mask or scarf.

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What am I entitled to in the event of a delay of an international train service?

If the railway company informs you (in advance) that your international train journey is delayed so that you will arrive at your travel destination at least 60 minutes later, you may cancel the train journey. You are entitled to a full refund of your train ticket.

Alternatively, you may choose to continue the train journey at the next opportunity or accept an alternative transport solution. Read what you are entitled to here

Connecting train missed due to a delay during the first leg of the train journey
Did the delay occur during the first leg of your international train journey and did you miss the connecting train? Then you may cancel the next leg/legs of the journey. You will then be entitled to a refund of the leg of the train journey you did not make. 

  • In this case, the railway company must ensure that you return to your point of departure as soon as possible or reimburse the cost of the return journey to your point of departure.  
  • While waiting, you are entitled to assistance in the form of meals, refreshments and possibly accommodation if you are forced to spend the night due to the delay. 

Alternatively, you may choose to continue the train journey at the next opportunity or accept an alternative transport solution. Read what you are entitled to here

Connecting train is delayed 
If the railway company informs you (in advance) that your international train journey is delayed so that you will arrive at your travel destination at least 60 minutes later, you may cancel the next leg/legs of the train journey. You will then be entitled to a refund of the leg of the train journey you did not make.

  • In this case, the railway company must ensure that you return to your point of departure as soon as possible or reimburse the cost of the return journey to your point of departure.  
  • While waiting, you are entitled to assistance in the form of meals, refreshments and possibly accommodation if you are forced to spend the night due to the delay. 

Alternatively, you may choose to continue the train journey at the next opportunity or accept an alternative transport solution. Read what you are entitled to here.
 

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Am I entitled to compensation in the event of a delayed international train service?

If your international train journey is delayed so that you arrive at your destination at least 60 minutes late, you may cancel the train journey. You will then be entitled to a full refund of your train ticket. If you choose to continue the train journey at the next opportunity, you are entitled to compensation. 

Compensation in the event of a delayed train service
The amount of the compensation for international train journeys depends on the duration of the delay:

  • 25% of the train ticket in case of a delay of between 1 and 2 hours;
  • 50% of the train ticket in case of a delay of more than 2 hours.

Not entitled to compensation:

  • if you were already aware of the delay prior to purchasing the train ticket/ the train journey;
  • if you opt for a refund of the train ticket/the train journey. 

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Am I entitled to a refund for a cancelled train service due to the coronavirus?

If the railway company informs you that your international train journey has been cancelled so that you arrive at your destination at least 60 minutes late, you are entitled to a full refund of your train journey.

Right to compensation in the event of cancellation of an international train journey
If you choose to continue the train journey at the earliest opportunity or if you accept an alternative transport solution, you are entitled to compensation.

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Am I entitled to compensation in the event of cancellation of an international train service?

If your international train journey is cancelled so that you arrive at your destination at least 60 minutes late, you may cancel the train journey. You will then be entitled to a full refund of your train ticket. If you choose to continue the train journey at the next opportunity, you are entitled to compensation. 

Compensation in the event of cancellation of an international train journey
The amount of the compensation for international train journeys depends on the duration of the delay caused by the cancelled train journey:

  • 25% of the train ticket in case of a delay of between 1 and 2 hours;
  • 50% of the train ticket in case of a delay of more than 2 hours.

No right to compensation:

  • if you were already aware of the cancellation prior to purchasing the train ticket/the train journey;
  • if you opt for a refund of the train ticket/the train journey. 

#vergoeding-bij-annulering-internationale-treinreis

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What should I pay attention to when accepting a voucher?

If your train service is cancelled because of the coronavirus, the railway company may offer you a voucher. You do not have to accept this. You are still entitled to a refund of your money. Before you choose to accept a voucher, check if the voucher complies with the basic principles of the voucher scheme of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets ACM.

Accepting a voucher is a choice, it should not be imposed on you. The starting point remains that you are entitled to a refund when you cancel your booking. 

  • The voucher must be a full replacement. This means that the voucher value is equal to the original travel sum including booking fees and administrative costs, etc. 
  • Vouchers must have a reasonable validity period, e.g. 12 months. 
  • The remaining amount of the voucher (the part you have not spent) must be paid out afterwards by the railway company within a reasonable period of time. 
  • Have you made a down payment? Then you do not have to pay the remaining amount if you know that the holiday cannot go ahead or if the railway company will be unable to perform the agreement.

Also check if the voucher is covered by a guarantee fund or if another guarantee scheme applies, so you will not be left empty-handed in the event of bankruptcy. 
 

#corona-voucher-conditions

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What can I do if a railway company refuses to refund any money?

If a railway company refuses to refund your money in the event of cancellation of your booking, you do not need to leave it at that. Let us explain what you can do!

Download sample letter
Make your complaint known to the railway company in writing, via the website or by email. For this purpose, you can use the ECC sample letter: ‘Train service cancelled? Get your money back!’ This letter can be downloaded in Dutch and English. Free of charge! 

Report it to the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT)
Does the railway company fail to respond within the time limit you set or is your request for reimbursement rejected? Report it to the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate. This regulator can take strict action against railway companies that do not comply with the rules and are taking unfair advantage of the corona crisis. 

Complaint about a foreign railway company? Ask ECC for assistance!
Do you live in the Netherlands and do you have a conflict with a foreign railway company established in another EU Member State, Norway, Iceland or the United Kingdom, which you cannot resolve together? Ask our legal specialists for assistance. We mediate between you and the railway company. Free of charge! 

Take it to court
If ECC’s mediation is unsuccessful, you can start a small claims procedure and submit your complaint to the court. Our legal specialists can inform you about the legal options and costs for starting this procedure.
 

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I do not want to go abroad anymore. Can I change or cancel my train journey free of charge?

As long as the train service can be carried out as agreed with you at the time of booking, you are in principle not entitled to changing or cancelling your train journey free of charge. You are subject to the booking conditions and willingness of the railway company to rebook or cancel the train journey free of charge. 

Adjusted travel conditions in times of corona
A number of international railway companies have temporarily relaxed the conditions for changing a train journey in times of corona. Did you book the train journey recently? Check with the train company whether you can change or cancel your train journey free of charge!
 

#international-train-service-cancellation

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Can I change or cancel my train ticket (free of charge) in the event of a negative travel advice?

You can cancel your train journey at any time, but as long as the train journey can be carried out as agreed with you at the time of booking, you are in principle not entitled to changing or cancelling your train journey free of charge. You are subject to the booking conditions and willingness of the railway company to rebook or cancel the train journey free of charge. 

Adjusted travel conditions in times of corona 
A number of international railway companies have temporarily relaxed the conditions for changing a train journey in times of corona. Did you book the train journey recently? Check with the railway company whether you can change or cancel your train journey free of charge! 

#free-of-charge-cancellation-or-change

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Luggage

I lost my luggage on the train journey. What am I entitled to?

Luggage that is easy to carry may be taken on the train. Large objects, such as objects that could cause nuisance, damage or inconvenience, must be carried as registered luggage. This luggage is transported in the luggage compartment of the train. 

Compensation for lost luggage
If your registered luggage was lost during the train journey, you are entitled to compensation. 

  • Compensation of approximately € 1,200 per piece of registered luggage (on presentation of proof of contents value)
  • Compensation of approximately € 300 per piece of registered luggage (in the event of failure to present proof of contents value) 

#lost-luggage

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My luggage was damaged during the train journey. What am I entitled to?

Luggage that is easy to carry can be taken on the train. Large objects, such as objects that could cause nuisance, damage or inconvenience, must be carried as registered luggage. This luggage is transported in the luggage compartment of the train. 

Compensation for damaged luggage
If your registered luggage was damaged during the train journey, you are entitled to compensation. Please note: this does not apply if your luggage was not properly packed or was not suitable for transport.

  • Compensation of approximately € 1,200 per piece of registered luggage (on presentation of proof of contents value)
  • Compensation of approximately € 300 per piece of registered luggage (in the event of failure to present proof of contents value)

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About the ECC

How can the European Consumer Centre help me?

The European Consumer Centre will help find a solution for your complaint if you and a foreign railway company cannot work it out together. You live in the Netherlands and the railway company must be established in another EU country, Norway, Iceland or the United Kingdom. Contact our legal specialists via the online form. Our legal aid is free. 

Question/complaint about a Dutch railway company
If you have a question or complaint about a Dutch railway company, please contact the Legal Services CounterACM Consuwijzer or the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate for legal assistance. 
 

#European-Consumer-Centre

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