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Train at the station

Source: Fotolia / Petair

Regulation (EU) 2021/782 on rail passenger rights and obligations is directly applicable to rail passengers throughout Europe. Apart from this, the national Railways Ordinance contains even more far-reaching rights for local transport.

Overview of the most important rail passengers rights:

  • For delays of 60 minutes or more at the destination station, you are entitled to a compensation of 25% of the ticket price, for delays of 120 minutes or more it is 50% of the ticket price. For travel passes or season tickets, the relevant provisions of the conditions of carriage of the railway undertakings apply.
  • In the event of an expected delay of more than 60 minutes at the destination station (e. g. due to a severe delay or cancellation of your train), you can discontinue your journey or refrain from travelling if the journey has become pointless for you. In this case, you can have your ticket reimbursed. Alternatively, you can travel at a later time, even via another route. If the railway undertaking does not offer you an alternative for continuing your journey within 100 minutes after the scheduled departure time of the delayed or cancelled train, you are entitled to continue your journey with another railway undertaking, by coach or by bus. You are entitled to be reimbursed the necessary, appropriate and reasonable costs you incurred as a result. In addition, in the event of a delay of 60 minutes or more, you have the right, with the prior consent of the railway undertaking, to continue your journey with another transport provider against reimbursement of costs by the railway undertaking.
  • In local transport, if a delay of at least 20 minutes at the destination is foreseeable, you may use any other train, if necessary also a long-distance train, but no trains with obligatory reservation. For this, you may need to purchase a ticket first. You can have the costs reimbursed. This rule does not apply to the Deutschlandticket, which is available at a substantially reduced fare.
  • In local transport, you can also use another means of transport (including a cab, if appropriate) if your scheduled arrival time falls within the period between 0.00 and 5.00 hrs and if it can be reasonably expected that you would otherwise reach your destination with a delay of at least 60 minutes or if you wanted to use the last scheduled connection of the day and cannot reach the destination station by 24.00 hrs without using the other means of transport. The expenses incurred will be reimbursed up to an amount of € 120.
  • In the event of a delay of more than 60 minutes, you must be offered an overnight hotel stay free of charge if this becomes necessary; furthermore, meals and refreshments are to be offered if available.
  • In the event of delays, you have to be informed about the estimated times of departure and arrival.
  • Exceptions from compensation:
    The railway undertaking does not have to compensate you if the delay or cancellation was caused by:

    • Exceptional circumstances not related to railway operations. This includes, for instance, extreme weather conditions or major natural disasters (not “regular” storms)
    • Behaviour of the passenger
    • Behaviour of a third party (e. g. cable theft, emergencies on the train or police interventions)
  • When selling you tickets, railway undertakings have to inform you, at your request, about, inter alia: Connections with the shortest travel time or the lowest fare, the general conditions of carriage of the railway undertaking and the accessibility of the facilities for persons with disabilities or reduced mobility as well as the availability of parking spaces and access conditions for bicycles.
  • During the journey, the railway undertaking must inform you about delays as well as important connecting trains.
  • These persons are entitled to carriage at no additional cost.
  • Railway undertakings and station managers must, upon request, provide information about the accessibility of railway services and, if notified of the respective need at least 24 hours before the start of the journey, provide assistance for boarding and disembarking as well as during the journey free of charge, provided that trained personnel are available. For cross-border journeys, the statutory advance notification deadline is 36 hours.
  • A single notification is sufficient even where a journey is carried out by several railway undertakings. The notification must be sent to the Mobilitätsservice-Zentrale (Mobility Service Centre) of DB AG.
  • In the event of death or personal injury as well as loss or damage to luggage, passengers are entitled to compensation from the railway undertaking.
  • In the event of a railway accident in which a passenger is injured or killed, railway undertakings must pay an advance covering the immediate economic needs of the passenger or his/her dependants.
  • The railway undertakings are obliged to establish a procedure for handling complaints.
  • They must provide passengers with at least one means of accessible electronic communication for making compensation and refund claims. In addition, claims for compensation or reimbursement against Deutsche Bahn AG and numerous other railway undertakings can be lodged with the

    Servicecenter Fahrgastrechte
    60647 Frankfurt
    Phone: +49 (0)30-586020920.

  • The application for compensation must be made within 3 months after the journey.
  • The railway undertaking must provide compensation or reimbursement within 1 month.
  • You can complain about alleged violations of passenger rights to the Federal Railway Authority (Eisenbahn-Bundesamt). The Federal Railway Authority will then examine whether and to what extent the undertaking has violated its statutory obligations:

    Heinemannstr. 6
    53175 Bonn
    Phone: +49 (0) 228 30795400
    Email address:
    Further information:

Moreover, you have the option of involving a suitable arbitration entity with the aim of settling disputes out of court and by mutual agreement. The Schlichtungsstelle für den öffentlichen Personenverkehr e. V. (söp) (Conciliation Body for Public Transport) or the regional arbitration entities for local transport SNUB - Die Nahverkehr-Schlichtungsstelle (SNUB - Local Transport Conciliation Body) and the Schlichtungsstelle Nahverkehr (snv) (Conciliation Body for Public Transport) are considered recognized arbitration entities. The prerequisite for carrying out the arbitration procedure is that the railway undertaking is a member of the arbitration entity.