What is mediation?
Mediation is a free, confidential proceeding for customers who have not received a satisfactory response to their complaint.
Before you request mediation, you must submit a written complaint to SNCF, Eurostar, Thalys or Corsica Railways. If the carrier rejects your complaint in writing or fails to respond within one month, you may ask the Ombudsperson to mediate the dispute (unless the carrier’s general terms and conditions specify a different deadline).
Your complaint cannot be more than one year old.
How it works
Mediation is a four-step process:
- Step 1: confirm that your request meets the admissibility requirements listed below
- Step 2: submit your mediation request to the Ombudsperson
- Step 3: the Ombudsperson examines your case and issues an opinion within 90 days of receipt. If your case is complex, this deadline may be extended
- Step 4: the Ombudsperson will issue an opinion via postal mail or e-mail, depending on how you submitted your mediation request.
Learn more about the mediation process plus detailed legal information
What types of disputes does the Ombudsperson handle?
The Ombudsperson has jurisdiction in commercial disputes, contract disputes, and fines issued by the SNCF Mobilités railway police. You may submit your mediation request in French or English.
Commercial and contract disputes
These are disputes related to tickets provided by SNCF, Thalys, Eurostar, Corsica Railways or their distribution networks—a problem with issuing a ticket, for example.
The Ombudsperson can also mediate disputes involving the contract of carriage, such as a delayed train or a problem with on-board amenities.
You may submit a mediation request if:
- your complaint is less than one year old
- you have not filed suit in any court, in France or any other country, in connection with the dispute
- you have already submitted an initial complaint, and the carrier has either rejected your complaint in writing or failed to respond within one month (or within the deadline specified in the carrier’s general terms and conditions)
Need to submit your initial complaint to the carrier? Make your complaint on line.
Fines issued by the SNCF Mobilités railway police
This category covers fines for fare violations and/or acts of incivility, such as travelling without a ticket, travelling on a discount fare without proof of eligibility, smoking in no-smoking areas and alarm hoaxes.
You may submit a mediation request if you have already protested the fine by contacting the appropriate collection centre at the address provided on your fine, within two months of the date the fine was issued. Only the first four classes of fine may be referred to the Ombudsperson.
Important: you may submit a mediation request to the Ombudsperson before you pay your fine, but the amount will increase if you do not pay it within two months of the date of the violation. This two-month deadline, established under Sections 529-4 and 529-5 of the French Code of Criminal Procedure, includes filing a claim with the collection centre and with the Ombudsperson, who has 90 days to issue an opinion. Collection of the fine is suspended while the case is under review.
You may not submit a mediation request in connection with:
- fines that expose the claimant to criminal action for repeatedly travelling without a ticket, as provided under Section L 2242-6 of the French Transport Code
- fines related to a crime
- disputes involving personal injury—if you missed a step as you got off your train, for example
- disputes involving contractual relationships between you and the companies that provide on-board dining services, such as the café-bar;
- disputes that do not fall under travel services or another primary responsibility of the carrier’s customer service department—for example, if you live near the tracks and experience noise nuisance
- disputes that fall under the jurisdiction of another Ombudsperson with whom a jurisdictional agreement has been signed;
- disputes in which a lawsuit has been brought—in other words, disputes you are already seeking to resolve through judicial means
- disputes involving services offered by Eurostar or Thalys which are ancillary to the transport contract, and whose performance is subject to technical uncertainties or to uncertainties external to rail operations—for example, if WiFi or newspapers were unavailable in your 1st class coach
- disputes involving travel packages (train ticket + hotel, for example) that include rail services provided by one of the carriers. These disputes should be referred to the French Tourism and Travel Ombudsperson.
The following parties may submit a mediation request to the Ombudsperson:
- you, the customer (with optional assistance from and/or representation by a third party of your choice). If you choose a private individual, the Ombudsperson may ask him for a power of attorney in the form of a dated letter signed by you
- France’s Defender of Rights or his representatives, an accredited national consumer association, a court-appointed mediator, and the European Consumer Centre, provided they are acting on behalf of a passenger
Did you submit your dispute to the Defender of Rights or a representative of the Defender of Rights, to the European Ombudsperson, or to an ombudsperson for a European railway company? No worries. Your request will be referred to the SNCF Mobilités Ombudsperson.
Contact the Ombudsperson
Ready to submit a mediation request? Choose from two options.