Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Takes Stand on Noise Complaint Related to Passenger Information System

Traffic information should be provided to passengers in compliance with the right to a healthy environment, concluded the Ombudsman. Fully accepting the life-protecting function and inevitability of audio passenger information, Dr Ákos Kozma requested MÁV Zrt’s (Hungarian State Railway) President-CEO to order a comprehensive inspection with regard to the passenger information equipment of Balatonszéplak-felső railway station, to find out whether it is justified to communicate all the currently provided traffic information through a loudspeaker during the night, in the interests of those living in the vicinity of the stations and stops.

The complainant turned to the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights because of the noise burden caused by the loudspeakers operating at Balatonszéplak-felső railway station. According to the petition, since the renovation of the railway stop, 32 loudspeakers have been operating there, instead of the earlier 8.

In his report on Case No. AJB-4642/2020, Dr Ákos Kozma pointed out that in Regulation No. 1371/2007/EC on Rail Passengers' Rights and Obligations, it is stipulated that the right to information before and during a trip is one of the users’ rights concerning railway services. Travel information should be communicated in the most appropriate form, and special attention should be paid to the needs of hearing and/or visually impaired persons. Pursuant to the provisions set out in the National Railway Regulation, the provision of passenger information through loudspeakers should be restricted to the lowest number of spaces at the railway stations and on the trains, and the public not in need of such information should be spared, especially during the night. The provision of audio passenger information fulfils a task in protecting lives, serving the prevention of accidents, on the one hand, and it conveys the traffic information related to travel to the passengers, on the other hand. The basis of the former function is the protection of human lives, while the latter serves the enforcement of passenger rights, more specifically, the right to information.

The Ombudsman concluded that the right to life is illimitable, absolute and takes precedence over all other rights, this is why the information provided for the protection of lives in the entire area of stations and stops is unavoidable irrespective of the part of the day, it is an inevitable part of railway transport. The resulting disturbance is inevitable, and the right to a healthy environment can be restricted with a view to the enforcement of this fundamental right. As regards traffic information, however, this absolute nature does not exist, so the information in this scope do not have priority, they should be provided in compliance with the right to a healthy environment.

Fully accepting the life-protecting function and inevitability of audio passenger information, Dr Ákos Kozma requested MÁV Zrt’s President-CEO to order a comprehensive inspection with regard to the passenger information equipment of Balatonszéplak-felső railway station. The Ombudsman added that according to Directive No. 19/2020 (II. 07. MÁV Ért. 5.) EVIG, passenger information should first of all be provided by using visual devices, which is to be supplemented by audio passenger information. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, in protection of the citizens living in the vicinity of stations (stops), by taking into account the requirement of the National Railway Regulation regarding the provision of passenger information at night, finds it justified to review whether it is necessary to communicate all information currently provided as part of traffic information through loudspeakers at night.

 

For the report, please click on the following link: AJB-4642/2020