International passengers left to wonder what happened to their train

25 January 2007

International passengers left to wonder what happened to their train

Until recently, taking the train from Amsterdam to Brussels or Cologne to Utrecht was no more complicated than it would have been to travel by rail between two Dutch cities. Increasing liberalization and the imposition of market conditions on rail providers has, however, hit international passengers hard. When timetables are revised, or delays and diversions foreseen, trans-frontier passengers are increasingly provided with inadequate information, making it difficult or impossible for them to rearrange journeys. Euro-MP Erik Meijer, a member of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and himself a regular user of international rail services, has asked the European Commission whether it is aware of these developments and, if so, whether it has any plans to deal with them.

Erik Meijer"The European Union is happy enough to stick its nose in when it comes to the business of tendering to provide public transport services between towns in the same country, despite the fact that they have no knowledge of the particular circumstances and would be better leaving local authorities to deal with any problems,” Erik Meijer says. “So you’d at least expect the Commission to take an interest when it comes to a genuinely European public transport issue.”

Meijer today put a number of written parliamentary questions asking the Commission what it intended to do in order to bring to the attention of rail transport providers, as well as to EU member states’ transport ministers, the fact that passengers crossing from one country to another are not being provided with proper information regarding delays and obstructions, or with advice as to possible alternative travel arrangements. The SP Euro-MP, who also acts as the European Parliament United Left Group (GUE-NGL) spokesman on transport issues, will ask the Commission if it could not at least ensure the restoration of the quality of information which was available before the wave of deregulation and liberalisation of recent years.

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