ECJ: Rail passengers must be given information on main connecting services, whichever railway undertaking operates them

The (privately owned) railway undertaking Westbahn Management GmbH operates passenger rail transport services on the Vienna-Salzburg line in Austria. State owned ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG is the railway infrastructure manager in Austria and manages the major part of the Austrian rail network, including the Vienna-Salzburg line. It has at its disposal real-time data on the positions of all trains operating on the Austrian rail network it manages. The data is communicated to the various railway undertakings where it concerns those undertakings’ trains.Westbahn Management requested ÖBB-Infrastruktur to provide it with real time data relating to trains of other railway undertakings, in order for it to be able to inform its passengers of the actual departure times of connecting trains. ÖBB-Infrastruktur refused to grant access to that information, on the ground that, in principle, it only transmitted data relating to the railway undertaking concerned. It advised Westbahn Management to reach an agreement with the other railway undertakings by which those undertakings would agree to the transmission of the data relating to them. No such agreement was reached, however, between Westbahn Management and the other railway undertakings.As it considered that the failure to transmit the data was contrary to Regulation (EC) 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations, Westbahn brought an application before the Schienen-Control Kommission, the tribunal with jurisdiction to rule on disputes concerning the rail market.In a reference for preliminary ruling, the Schienen-Control Kommission asked the ECJwhether information on main connecting services must include, as well as scheduled departure times, delays to or cancellations of those connecting trains, in particular those of other railway undertakings; andwhether the infrastructure manager is under an obligation to make available, in a non-discriminatory manner, real time data on the positions of trains operated by other railway undertakings, where those trains provide main connecting services.In its judgement of Nov. 22, 2012, the ECJ answered both questions to the positive reasoning that, in order to observe the interests of passengers and the general objectives pursued by EU law, the information supplied to passengers must be of use to them.Source: ECJ press release 149/12 of Nov. 22, 2012Full text of judgement in case C-136/11 (Westbahn Management GmbH v ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG) available here>>.

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