The reimbursement rules for cancelled or delayed trains changed in France on Wednesday (June 7) so as to be harmonised with other EU countries.
The European Consumer Centre France has a tool to help you work out what you are entitled to and here are the key points.
Previously when travelling in France you were reimbursed 25% of your ticket if your train was delayed by at least an hour, and 50% if delayed at least two hours, regardless of the cause of the delay.
The new rules do not change the timings or the reimbursement levels, but state that train operators no longer have to reimburse if the delay is due to exceptional circumstances, such as extreme weather conditions, a major natural catastrophe, or third-parties, for example, people on the tracks.
You are still eligible for reimbursement if the train company’s staff are on strike.
However, France’s rail operator the SNCF told the newspaper Le Parisien that it will continue to reimburse on its TGV or Intercité trains for delays due to exceptional circumstances. It will also continue to reimburse passengers for train delays of 30 minutes.
If you miss a train connection because of an issue with an earlier train, the ticket seller (as long as you bought with the connection from the same seller, platform or travel agency) must now:
Reimburse your tickets
Pay you compensation worth 75% of what you paid within 30 days.
However, if the seller informs you at the moment of purchase that the trains are operated by different train companies and that they are not contractually linked, you can only be reimbursed for the delayed train.
Accommodation due to delays or cancellations limited
If a train is cancelled or delayed by over an hour, you have the right to meals, drinks and accommodation, if possible, if you can not continue your journey on the same day.
Previously there was no limit on the number of nights a train company had to provide accommodation for but now this is limited to three days.
Changing travel operator after cancellations or delays
If your train is delayed, the train company must offer to reimburse you and give you the option of continuing with another train operator or even another mode of transport. The train company will cover the costs of your continued journey, even if it is more expensive or sees you upgraded.
A change of train operator or mode of transport is also available if your train is delayed. If the company has not suggested another way of continuing your journey within 100 minutes of your train being delayed, you can organise your onward journey yourself, and request reimbursement.
Requests for assistance
The new rules also make it easier to request help in stations if you are disabled or require extra help.
The requirement to request extra help 48 hours before travelling has been reduced to 24 hours in France. However, in some European countries you might need to submit the request 36 hours beforehand.
If passengers with reduced mobility are affected by delays or cancellations, the train operator must offer a comparable level of help when they offer a replacement journey. Moreover, passengers with reduced mobility must not pay extra for the tickets or reservations.
Finally, if mobility equipment is damaged during a train journey, the operator must pay to replace it and ensure a temporary replacement for the equipment concerned.
Bicycles on trains
There will now be at least four bike storage racks on all new or renovated trains from 2025.
These new rules follow legislation passed by the European Parliament on 29 April, 2021, which aimed to harmonise rail reimbursement and assistance legislation across the European Union (EU).