SHARE
COPY LINK

TRAIN TRAVEL

€9 ticket: Hundreds of German trains ‘overcrowded’ on long weekend

Rail traffic in Germany was packed over the Whitsun holiday weekend, leading to 700 reports of disruption, according to staff representatives.

Police and Deutsche Bahn employees direct travellers on a crowded platform at the main station in Cologne on Monday.
Police and Deutsche Bahn employees direct travellers on a crowded platform at the main station in Cologne on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

Germany’s €9 monthly ticket launched last Wednesday, and received its first major test during the Whitsun holiday weekend. 

And vice-chairman of the DB Regio Works Council, Ralf Damde, said around 400 trains were overcrowded on each day.

“As expected, the €9 campaign triggered a big rush on regional trains, which led to significantly more cases of congestion nationwide,” Damde told RND.

“Platforms and trains were full all over Germany, and in several cases overcrowded trains had to be cleared – but fortunately – no stations.”

He said that passengers had to be turned away from trains, or people were told they couldn’t take bicycles on board. 

READ ALSO:

Around 700 reports of overloaded trains, passenger issues or other disruptions were sent to the operations centre per day. Damde said that number is significantly higher than on average weekends or previous holidays. 

There were no physical assaults against railway staff, “but there were verbal assaults,” said Damde.

The massive additional demand for personnel also meant rail staff had to work overtime over the weekend. 

“Overall, passengers needed significantly more assistance than usual,” said Damde. “This included the fact that many people who had not travelled by train for a long time did not know that masks are still compulsory on public transport.”

READ ALSO: ‘The €9 ticket for summer is just a gimmick, not a solution’

The €9 monthly ticket offer runs until the end of August, and is valid on local transport across Germany, including regional trains. It cannot be used on long-distance transport such as ICE services. 

Passenger association Pro Bahn also said there were major problems at the weekend. “During peak travel times, demand on the main lines was so strong that trains could not depart,” a spokesman said.

“And some railway companies – such as Metronom in northern Germany – excluded bicycle transport because they could not cope with the rush.”

However, some people in Germany have said that trains are always busy during the Whitsun weekend, and that these reports are over-exaggerated.

Meanwhile, FDP transport politician Christian Jung told the Hessischer Rundfunk that the €9 ticket showed that rail bosses are not prepared for “additional capacities in local transport and to tourist destinations”.

“The rail infrastructure is not designed for such capacity increases because of its condition,” he said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

TRAIN TRAVEL

What are my rights if a train is delayed or cancelled in Germany?

Experiencing delays and disruptions on the German rail network isn't uncommon, but not everyone is clued up on their passenger rights. We look at when you can claim compensation - and how much you could be entitled to.

What are my rights if a train is delayed or cancelled in Germany?

According to the latest Deutsche Bahn statistics, one in four long-distance trains arrived at their destination late last year. While passengers on regional transport fared slightly better, more than one in twenty trains on the regional network also experienced delays.

While minor travel delays are a fact of life, more severe disruptions can ruin day trips, weekends away and visits to see family and friends. And when major incidents like national strikes and rail accidents occur, travel can become near impossible.

So, what do you do when you’re faced with a “Zug verspätet” (train delayed) sign – or, even worse, the dreaded “Zug fällt aus” (train cancelled) notification?

In most cases, you have a number of options. Here’s a rundown of the most important passenger rights you should know about and some tips for claiming compensation. 

What rights do I have if my train is delayed?

If you arrive at your destination more than an hour late, you should be entitled to compensation.

Delays of 60 minutes or more will get you a 25 percent refund on a single journey, while delays of 120 minutes or more will get you 50 percent of your money back. The price of a single ticket is calculated as half of your return ticket price. 

So if, for example, you’ve booked a return ticket for €80, you’ll get €10 compensation if the train’s delayed by at least 60 minutes on one of the journeys.

For season-ticket holders, like those with a weekly or monthly ticket or a Bahncard 100, Deutsche Bahn offers a lump sum per delay:

  • In regional and local transport: €1.50 (2nd class), €2.25 (1st class)
  • In long-distance transport: €5 (2nd class), €7.50 (1st class)
  • BahnCard 100: €10 (2nd class), €15 (1st class)

However, it’s important to note that DB doesn’t pay out claims of less than €4, so people with a local or regional season ticket will have to make several claims at once. 

Refunds are also capped at 25 percent of the price of your season ticket or pass, so if you experience numerous delays, you may not get a refund for all of them. 

READ ALSO: ‘Deutschlandticket’: What you need to know about Germany’s new €49 travel ticket

Can I choose to take an alternative route?

If you train is delayed by more than 20 minutes, you’re well within your rights to seek out an alternative route to your destination or travel at a later time in the day. 

However, if you take a more expensive long-distance train, such as the ICE instead of the RE regional train, to complete your journey, you’ll need to first buy the more expensive ticket or pay a surcharge and then claim the costs back later. Note that this doesn’t apply to heavily discounted tickets, such as ‘Länder’ or ‘Schönes Wochenende’ tickets.

In some cases – like rail strikes – Deutsche Bahn will recommend travelling at a later date. This usually gives you the option to delay your journey by a week or so and travel on any train that doesn’t require a reservation until a certain date. This is usually only done in exceptional situations though, so it’s best to check with Deutsche Bahn before deciding to push your journey back. 

What happens if I decide not to travel?

In certain circumstances, you’ll be able to get a full refund for your journey if you choose not to travel.

If there’s more than a 60-minute delay on your route or your train is cancelled, you can abandon your journey and get your entire ticket price refunded. If you’re halfway through your journey and decide not to continue with it, simply return to the station you started at for a full refund. 

If you decide to only travel part of the way to your destination, you can get a refund for the stretch of the route you didn’t take. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to find cheap train tickets in Germany

Are there different rules for international train journeys?

Generally, no, but it all depends on how you booked the tickets – and who from. On its website, Deutsche Bahn says that any tickets issued by them – including for international destinations – are eligible for compensation. 

In most cases, the same rules apply to international travel as they do to domestic travel. That means delays of 60 minutes or more entitle you to a 25 percent refund, while delays of 120 minutes or more entitle you to a 50 percent discount. 

Hamburg Central Station

Intercity trains wait on the platform at Hamburg Central Station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bodo Marks

Once again, if one part of a return journey is affected, you’ll receive 25 or 50 percent of half of the ticket price, which works out at 12.5 or 25 percent respectively. 

The rules are slightly different for people using a rail pass. Passengers travelling with a German Rail Pass are entitled to €5 (2nd class) or €7.50 (1st class) per delay, providing they’ve experienced at least three delays of 60 minutes or more since purchasing the pass.

Passengers travelling with an Interrail Germany Pass are entitled to €10 per delay, provided they’ve experienced at least two delays of 60 minutes or more while using the ticket. 

If you didn’t buy your ticket through Deutsche Bahn, you’ll need to contact your ticket vendor for compensation instead. 

READ ALSO: The best websites for cross-Europe train travel

Will Deutsche Bahn pay for taxis and overnight accommodation? 

There are two situations where Deutsche Bahn has to provide an alternative form of transport: if the scheduled arrival time is between midnight and 5 am and the expected delay at the destination station is at least 60 minutes, or if the last scheduled connection of the day is cancelled and it’s no longer possible to reach the destination station by midnight without taking a bus or taxi.

If the firm doesn’t do this — if it’s the middle of the night, for example — you can get a taxi yourself and then get the railway to reimburse the costs, up to a maximum of €80.

If a train is cancelled or delays mean it’s no longer possible or reasonable to continue the journey that day, the railway has to provide customers with overnight accommodation or reimburse “reasonable accommodation costs” later.

If offered, passengers have to use the accommodation offered by the DB before looking for a hotel themselves, though.

Region al train in Magdeburg

A regional train pulls in to Magdeburg station at night. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Peter Gercke

What’s the best way to claim compensation?

Since June 2021, customers who experience delays have been able to submit their claim via the DB Navigator app in a few clicks.

Alternatively, you can submit an online claims form. Full instructions on how to do this can be found on the Deutsche Bahn website here

READ ALSO: Delayed train? Germany’s Deutsche Bahn to give online refunds for first time

How is compensation paid out? 

You can choose whether you’d like a voucher or the money back.  

What type of rail transport do these rules apply to? 

You can claim refunds or compensation for delayed or cancelled journeys on any Deutsche Bahn passenger services, including long-distance trains, regional trains and local S-Bahn trains.

Germany’s passenger rights regulations also apply to other service providers such as FlixTrain, who provide a full rundown of their policies here

SHOW COMMENTS