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Plans to improve Europe rail travel

16 May 2011 09:50

New plans are designed to make booking cross-Europe rail journeys easier

New plans are designed to make booking cross-Europe rail journeys easier

The European Commission has outlined proposals aimed at making cross-Europe rail journeys easier and hassle-free for passengers.

Under new plans, ticketing systems and rail timetables will be standardised so that making a train reservation becomes as convenient as booking a flight.

The move is designed to encourage more travel insurance holders to use train services for European journeys, said EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas.

He said: "If we are serious about getting people on to rail, and particularly about having rail compete with air travel over middle distances, then we need to offer rail passengers the seamless planning and ticketing offers that match the airlines.

"We want to make it as easy, in the future to book a rail ticket from Barcelona to Brussels, or Berlin to Bratislava, as it is to book a corresponding flight."

As a next step, the EU will announce new plans in 2012 to get train operators to adopt standard technology systems.

Mr Kallas added: "Making common timetabling and fare information available to operators is a significant first step, but it is just the start of a much bigger push to make pan-European rail planning and ticketing a reality."

Welcoming the new announcement, Tory MEP Jacqueline Foster said: "This is a good example of a simple measure the EU can take to make consumers' lives easier and we welcome it."