Passenger rights on the railways are governed by the Regulation (EU) 2021/782 on rail passengers' rights and obligations. This regulation has been applicable since juni 7 2023 and protects passengers in order to ensure a better quality of passenger transport on the railways.
There is also a Belgian law governing these rights and obligations: the law of 15 May 2014 on rail passengers' rights and obligations.
What are the passenger rights on the railways?
All the basic and supplementary rights listed below are valid in Belgium.
The basic rights
The Regulation (EU) 2021/782 highlights six basic rights that all Member States must respect. These apply to all rail transport services within the European Union.
If you are a passenger, you have the right to :
- buy your ticket without difficulty;
- travel safely;
- have the same service if you are a passenger with reduced mobility;
- have information on accessibility for all passengers with reduced mobility;
- receive compensation in the event of injury or death and be covered by liability insurance for luggage;
- and to be covered by the insurance of the railway companies in the event of breaches of their obligations and responsibilities.
There are also rights to which EU Member States can apply for a derogation. These rights are therefore valid in all EU countries, except those with a derogation.
Depending on the country, if you are a traveller, you may therefore be entitled to :
- get information about your rights;
- receive assistance if you are a person with reduced mobility;
- be reimbursed or have access to re-routing (change of route);
- receive compensation for the price of your ticket in the event of delay or cancellation for international travel;
- receive assistance in the event of delay or cancellation;
- receive an advance payment of compensation in the event of death or injury;
- and make a claim.
If you would like more information on refunds, a page on compensation for train delays is available on our website.
What about passengers with reduced mobility?
Like any passenger, passengers with reduced mobility have basic and additional rights. However, in order to offer them the best possible quality of transport, certain rights are specific to people with reduced mobility.
For more information, please visit the page for people with reduced mobility in our FPS (Federal Public Service) or on the European Commission’s Your Europe website.
You can also find more information on rail passenger rights on Your Europe.
Who is responsible for monitoring compliance with these rights?
Each EU country must appoint a National Enforcement Body (NEB). The NEB’s task is to ensure that the Regulation (EU) 2021/782 is correctly applied by railway undertakings, station managers and ticket vendors. The authority therefore monitors compliance with all rail passengers’ rights and applies sanctions when the regulation is not respected.
This authority is responsible for checking the application of the regulation concerning :
- tickets and travel information;
- liability of railway undertakings in respect of passengers and their luggage;
- compensation for delays, missed connections or cancellations;
- disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility;
- safety, complaints and quality of service;
- the provision of information on the European Regulation by the railway undertaking.
You can find the list of competent authorities in each Member State on the European Commission’s website.
In Belgium, this is the FPS Mobility and Transport, as set out in the Royal Decree of 30 August 2013.
How to make a complaint or get more information?
Services offered by the railway undertaking
If you would like more information about rail travel, you can contact the customer service of the railway undertaking concerned.
Customer service of the railway company SNCB/NMBS
SNCB/NMBS’ customer service covers domestic passenger transport. You can contact them by telephone, by online form or by e-mail if you cannot find the information you need in the Belgian stations or on the SNCB website.
Customer service of the railway company SNCB International
SNCB/NMBS International's customer service covers passenger transport in Europe through its collaboration with Thalys. You can contact them with questions, requests for compensation, complaints or remarks via telephone or an online form.
Mediation service for rail passengers
Ombudsrail is the mediation service for the railways.
It is an independent body that intervenes in problems between railway undertakings and infrastructure managers on the one hand and passengers on the other. You can use it if you are not satisfied with the way your complaint has been dealt with, or if the service provided by a railway undertaking has not met your expectations. The mediation service can also provide information.
Reporting an infringement of passenger rights
Reporting an infringement in Belgium
If you want to report an infringement of the EU regulation in Belgium, you can fill in the online complaint form of the FPS Mobility and Transport. The FPS is the competent supervisory authority on Belgian territory.
Reporting an infringement in other EU Member States
If you have a problem when travelling by train in another EU Member State, you should contact the supervisory authority responsible for monitoring that Member State. You can find a list of these authorities on the European Commission's website.
What is the procedure after you have made a complaint?
The competent authority has 30 days from the receipt of your complaint to inform you whether your complaint is admissible (or inadmissible). If it is admissible, the authority has three months (from receipt of the request) to deal with your complaint.
Please note that your request for a complaint will only be dealt with by the authority concerned after a complaint has been lodged with the railway company concerned. You must therefore first make a complaint to the railway company before making a complaint to the competent authority.