When you travel through Europe by train, the EU protects you and grants you rights. These regulations apply to delays from one hour or more. They are also applicable for long-distance train journeys within Germany.
If your train is announced to be delayed by 60 minutes or more, the transport company is required to offer you the choice between:
- Continuation or re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to the final destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at your convenience, or
- A full refund of the ticket price if you no longer want to complete the journey.
- After 60 minutes waiting time you should also receive meals and refreshments. In the event that you are only able to continue the journey the following day, you are entitled to stay in a hotel or other accommodation that is paid for by the company (if feasible in practice).
If the delayed departure leads to a delay upon arrival of more than 60 minutes, you have the right to receive a partial refund of the ticket price. The specific amount depends on the duration of the delay.
- Delays between 60 and 119 min: refund of 25% of the ticket price
- Delays of 120 min and more: refund of 50% of the ticket price
Please note that the railway company is not obliged to compensate you for any consequential damages that may arise due to the delay, such as costs for an unused hotel room at your destination.
Recommendations for obtaining compensation:
- Ask the train controller for a written confirmation of the delay or cancellation, or take pictures of the information board.
- If you have unexpected expenses (food, communication, accommodation, transport, new tickets, first necessity goods etc.) ask for receipts for every purchase and keep them safe to prove your prejudice later.
In order to exercise your rail passenger rights against a railway company in Germany, you have to fill out a complaints form. You should include the tickets or copies of the tickets. We recommend that you only send in copies of your tickets and keep the originals yourself. However, if you choose to send the originals, be sure to make copies of the tickets and keep those copies for your records. You must send the form by post to:
60647 Frankfurt am Main
Or you can give it to an employee of the railway company at the service point of the railway station.
Our brochure "Travelling by train: Passenger rights in Germany" provides you with more information about your passenger rights.
What is a BahnCard?
If you are traveling by train in Germany and/or buying a train ticket through Deutsche Bahn, it is important to understand what the BahnCard is.
The BahnCard is a discount card offered by Deutsche Bahn with a variety of different types such as the BahnCard 25, BahnCard Flex 25, BahnCard Flex 50, and BahnCard 100. Each type of card has different discount prices for your tickets. These cards have an annual or monthly subscription, depending on the card, with automatic renewal.
Buying a ticket at the train station
When you are buying a ticket at the train station in Germany, Deutsche Bahn employees will recommend purchasing the BahnCard because it will reduce the price of your ticket. If you decide to purchase this option, you will have to fill out a form for the BahnCard. On the form, it states that this card is a subscription, and it will automatically renew the subscription every year. Since the form is in German, if you do not speak German, you may not realise that you are purchasing a subscription and not just a one-time discount.
If you are only visiting Germany for a short period of time
If you are only using the train once but want to purchase a BahnCard to receive a discount on your ticket, it may be possible for you to cancel your subscription within a certain period of time depending on the type of BahnCard you purchase.
How to cancel your BahnCard subscription
In order to cancel the subscription, you must send a notice to the Deutsche Bahn center within the appropriate period of time. Deutsche Bahn requires that you notify them at least six weeks prior to the renewal of your subscription for most BahnCard subscriptions.
The BahnCard option, which includes BahnCard 25, 50, and 100, has a minimum subscription of one year. If you wish to cancel your subscription, you must notify Deutsche Bahn at least six weeks prior to the renewal of your subscription, which will occur one year after the initial purchase.
The BahnCard Flex option, which includes BahnCard Flex 25 and 50,has a minimum subscription of three months. If you wish to cancel your subscription, you must notify Deutsche Bahn six weeks prior to the renewal of your subscription, which will occur three months after the initial purchase. After the initial three months, you can cancel your subscription on a monthly basis.
Although the BahnCard Flex option is more expensive, it allows you to cancel your subscription earlier than a BahnCard subscription since the minimum subscription period is shorter.