CIV tickets

What is a London CIV Ticket?

A CIV ticket is a ticket sold under the CIV conditions (Convention Internationale pour le transport des Voyageurs) for cross border rail travel. In the case of London, this means that, in the outward direction, if the UK train arrives into London late, Eurostar must honour the ticket and place the passenger on the next available Eurostar train. In the homeward direction, should the Eurostar arrive into London late and the connection onto the booked onward UK train is missed, the UK operator must accept the ticket on their next service. CIV tickets also include the underground connection to St Pancras where needed. They are normally slightly more expensive than the advance fare to / from London at the time of booking, but significantly cheaper than an open ticket. For more info see the Loco2 website.

Tickets sold under CIV conditions have the letters “CIV” printed on them somewhere, and typically state the London station as “London CIV”, “London Eurostar”, “London International” or “London International CIV” in lieu of the name of the London terminal.

All UK operators are required under their licence to accept / honour CIV tickets as the UK government is a signatory to the agreement (which is separate to the EU and will continue after Brexit). There is no suggestion that UK TOCs do not honour such tickets, and anecdotal evidence is that both UK TOCs and Eurostar are currently going beyond the letter of the law at present in accepting passengers for onward travel when disruption has occurred. Nevertheless, passengers want the certainty of knowing they are protected.

London CIV tickets are only valid when part of an international journey and revenue protection staff are entitled to ask passengers showing such tickets on board a UK train to provide evidence of the Eurostar connection ticket as well (either the actual ticket or booking reference for ticket collection). Without such evidence, the London CIV ticket is not valid.

CIV applies not just to London but any international rail or rail and sail journey including tickets to the Republic of Ireland (where purchasing through tickets doesn’t seem to be a problem), also for journeys via Ashford and for some East Coast ports with rail and sail facilities to Europe, and of course cross-border journeys in Europe (example below). However, this page is confined to the London case.
Photo by Ian Brown

Why Do Passengers Need To Buy London CIV Tickets?

A passenger travelling from say Newcastle to Paris can easily buy a through ticket from Eurostar or Voyages-SNCF which is automatically sold under the CIV conditions. There are however several instances in which through tickets cannot be purchased, and in these cases the passenger must buy their ticket for the UK leg separately, and would wish to buy their ticket under CIV conditions to ensure protection in the case of disruption to their journey. Such cases include:
  • Tickets to / from UK rail stations not offered by Eurostar or Voyages-SNCF. For example Morpeth in Northumberland has 4 direct trains to / from London per day which will increase to 9 by 2021. Eurostar and Voyages-SNCF do not offer through tickets from Morpeth to Paris, nor to our knowledge does any other TOC online channel. The passenger must buy the London – Paris ticket separately, and then buy a ticket from Morpeth to London CIV and vice versa
  • Whilst Eurostar and Voyages-SNCF sell through tickets from major UK provincial cities to Paris, or from London to French provincial cities, they do not offer through tickets from UK provincial city to French provincial city. Thus you can buy a ticket from Newcastle to Paris or from London to Strasbourg, but not Newcastle to Strasbourg. Passengers wishing to make such a journey would need to buy a separate ticket from Newcastle to London CIV, then from London to Strasbourg
  • Eurostar and the various UK TOCs all have different advance booking windows. A passenger may want to take advantage of booking the cheapest fares as soon as the advance booking window opens, thus might need to book their UK domestic and international legs at different times
  • A limitation of the Eurostar and Voyages-SNCF online ticket sales systems is that they do not allow passengers to choose trains and automatically book passengers on the next available train. There are many reasons why such arrangements are not suitable. For instance you might be travelling from Newcastle to Paris with a colleague who will join the Eurostar at Ebbsfleet. When booking my ticket you therefore need to specify the particular Eurostar train. You can only do this by buying separate tickets for Newcastle to London CIV, then London to Paris. In the reverse direction you might be travelling with a colleague wishes to go on beyond your destination of Morpeth, to Berwick. Thus, rather than being booked on the next train to Edinburgh, you might prefer to wait at London for the train after that also calls at Berwick, and travel with your colleague. This can only be done by buying separate Eurostar tickets to London then a London CIV ticket to Newcastle.

CIV is one of the appendices to Appendix A (CIV) to COTIF of 9th May 1980, as modified by the Vilnius Protocol of 3rd June 1999 This is the Convention that establishes international law for international carriage by rail. The Convention, which was signed in 1980, established OTIF, the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail, which is based in Berne. Its predecessor, the Central Office for International Carriage by Rail, was one of the first international agencies, having been established in 1893 and did much to establish a system of law for international rail.

CIV is specifically concerned with the carriage of passengers, including their luggage, vehicles, etc.. There are six other appendices. These deal separately with topics like the carriage of merchandise (CIM) or the use of infrastructure (CUI). As international law it takes precedence over domestic (including EU) law for at least all those countries who are signatories to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. which includes the UK. (Article 27 is of particular importance in this respect: "A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.")

For our purposes, Article 32 of CIV is the key. This reads:
Chapter II
Liability in case of Failure to Keep to the Timetable
Article 32
Liability in case of cancellation, late running of trains or missed connections

§ 1 The carrier shall be liable to the passenger for loss or damage resulting from the fact that, by reason of cancellation, the late running of a train or a missed connection, his journey cannot be continued the same day, or that a continuation of the journey the same day could not reasonably be required because of given circumstances. The damages shall comprise the reasonable costs of accommodation as well as the reasonable costs occasioned by having to notify persons expecting the passenger.
§ 2 The carrier shall be relieved of this liability, when the cancellation, late running or missed connection is attributable to one of the following causes :
a) circumstances not connected with the operation of the railway which the carrier, in spite of having taken the care required in the particular circumstances of the case, could not avoid and the consequences of which he was unable to prevent,
b) fault on the part of the passenger or
c) the behaviour of a third party which the carrier, in spite of having taken the care required in the particular circumstances of the case, could not avoid and the consequences of which he was unable to prevent; another undertaking using the same railway infrastructure shall not be considered as a third party; the right of recourse shall not be affected.
§ 3 National law shall determine whether and to what extent the carrier must pay damages for harm other than that provided for in § 1. This provision shall be without prejudice to Article 44.

The first three sections of Article 1 define much of the scope of the law:

Article 1

§ 1 These Uniform Rules shall apply to every contract of carriage of passengers by rail for reward or free of charge, when the place of departure and the place of destination are situated in two different Member States, irrespective of the domicile or the place of business and the nationality of the parties to the contract of carriage.
§ 2 When international carriage being the subject of a single contract includes carriage by road or inland waterway in internal traffic of a Member State as a supplement to transfrontier carriage by rail, these Uniform Rules shall apply.
§ 3 When international carriage being the subject of a single contract of carriage includes carriage by sea or transfrontier carriage by inland waterway as a supplement to carriage by rail, these Uniform Rules shall apply if the carriage by sea or inland waterway is performed on services included in the lists of services provided for in Article 24 § 1 of the Convention.

Because CIV is an international, not an EU, agreement which all signatory governments are obliged to honour, it will not lapse after Brexit. In the UK, its obligations are written in to the operating licence of all TOCs (both franchised and open access). Specifically TOCs are required to:
  • Honour CIV tickets (which they do)
  • Sell CIV tickets (which they do at booking offices, but no requirement to sell online)

How can CIV be improved?

London CIV tickets can be bought at booking offices and at specialist 3rd party websites, for example Trainsplit. Booking offices will check that you hold a valid Eurostar ticket, whilst websites will warn that the ticket is only valid as part of an onward journey with Eurostar.

Railfuture considers that it should be possible to buy such tickets through the TOCs’ online channels, which will help promote travel to Europe by rail, including the UK domestic leg:
  • Avoids Railfuture and travel journalists directing customers to specialist 3rd party websites, currently the only organisations that offer the facility. Once a customer discovers such a 3rd party website, they might choose to purchase all their rail tickets there, even for domestic journeys, losing the business to the RDG member for good
  • Tickets can be purchased at ticket offices, where the transaction can be complex due to staff inexperience resulting in queues building up, to the frustration of other passengers wanting to buy a ticket for the next train. Facilitating online sales permits the RDG member to free up resources at station ticket offices and reduce lost revenue through inability to sell a ticket to other passengers in the queue
  • The simpler we make it for passengers to travel by train, the more we grow the overall rail market, both in the UK and internationally. Easier purchase of tickets simplifies rail travel
  • Prepares RDG members to face competition from European TOCs entering the UK ticket sales market who may be willing to sell such tickets.