I recently traveled from the Basel area to Stuttgart for a weekend. I had round-trip tickets including (paid) bicycle reservations. At our first station change, we found that our EC train was canceled. Information gave us a replacement train schedule, using slow RE trains which don't require reservations for bicycles.

As we continued our trip, every single train we boarded arrived late, eventually causing us to reach Stuttgart roughly 2 hours later than our initial itinerary.

What monetary compensation am I justified in requesting from Deutsche Bahn in this case? In particular:

  • It seems clear I should get back the bicycle reservation money, since the train we reserved on was canceled.
  • I know DB offers compensation for late travels. I'm not sure whether we were 2 hours late or more, or just shy of 2 hours. But does this apply if we weren't traveling by our original trains?
  • If we had originally scheduled our journey with RE trains and other local transport, we could have bought a Baden-Württemberg ticket for much cheaper than our tickets including an EC cost. Can I ask them to refund the difference?
  • Am I entitled to any other type of compensation?
  1. You typically get the price of reservations for trains that didn't run reimbursed.
  2. If you booked a flexible ticket and had to use trains of a lesser category for the whole, journey, you can also get the surcharge back. However, you only get the difference to the local-train-only regular price tickets back, not the price difference to the "Baden-Württemberg Ticket". "Saver fares" are computed differently, and hence you are unlikely to get any such surcharge back.
  3. Apart from that, you get 25% of your ticket cost back for delays >= 1 hours, or 50% for delays >= 2 hours. This only holds if the reimbursement is worth at least 4 Euros. Also, if you get the surcharge for EC/IC-trains back, then you will not get another 25% or 50% of this surcharge back. It does not matter if the delay occurred using the trains actually booked or not -- as long as you are late and you always took the next available connection, you will be fine.
  4. There is normally no other compensation other than described the ones in the "Fahrgastrechte" (passenger rights). You can write a letter to the "Kundendialog" (customer relations), where complaints will be dealt with, and hope that they will give you some gimmick. But I would personally not give it a try, as this is too much work and in my experience, you only receive a "yes, we are sorry" letter.

The easiest way to claim compensation is to get a "Fahrgastrechteformular" at a DB Information booth at a major German train station. Fill it out, attach your ticket, seal the envelope, and throw it into a German post box (postage is not strictly necessary if the envelope has an "Antwort" line at the front -- from abroad, you will need to add postage and perhaps replace the "Deutschland" by "Germany" in the address, depending on from where you mail it). If you used an online ticket, there may be the possibility to request a compensation for delays online.

If you do not know when exactly you arrived, just write something like "ca. 14:00 - 15:00" in the field in which they ask for your actual arrival time - they have to look it up anyway.

You should supply bank account information for a bank account running in Euro currency in the SEPA area in the reimbursement form - no clue what happens if you don't (perhaps they send you a voucher then).

  • I assume it's the same as this form? bahn.de/p/view/service/auskunft/fahrgastrechte/… – Kyralessa Aug 23 '18 at 14:17
  • @Kyralessa Almost. The printed ones I have here also have all text in English and you can tick a box that you want them to answer in English. Apart from that, it's the same form. – DCTLib Aug 23 '18 at 14:23
  • Now the question is: Which language will get me more generous results? – Kyralessa Aug 23 '18 at 17:34
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    @Kyralessa Polite language. – Sneftel Aug 23 '18 at 18:49
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    I doubt there is the possibility of a more generous result. Either you get what you are entitled to, or you don't. I have never seen them give out any other we're sorry compensation. And I've had a lot of late trains in my time. – simbabque Aug 24 '18 at 10:27

But does this apply if we weren't traveling by our original trains?

It does, as you are allowed to take any alternative train if a delay of at least 20 minutes at the destination is expected (which I assume was the case here, since your train was cancelled).

As for the exact delay, the staff in the DB Travel Centre will be able to look that up if you provide them with the number of the train on which you arrived in Stuttgart.

On a side note, I would recommed taking the "Fahrgastrechteformular" to a train station instead of mailing it, since the staff there can tell you immediately whether your claim is valid and, in some cases, even pay you the compensation in cash on the spot.

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    I assume "to a train station" would also include a Reisezentrum? – Kyralessa Aug 23 '18 at 16:37
  • Yes, that's what I meant. In fact, don't take it to a train station without Reisezentrum – you need somebody to process the claim. – Mophotla Aug 23 '18 at 17:19
  • So you're saying I shouldn't try processing it at the boarded-up station where I live? :D – Kyralessa Aug 23 '18 at 17:34
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    You may try your luck with the cleaning staff, but in my experience they simply can't provide the same level of customer service as a Reisezentrum can... – Mophotla Aug 23 '18 at 17:51
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    There are some other restrictions in terms of what they can process directly. If it's an online ticket, they can only forward it at the Reisezentrum and will not process it directly even if they have a general "we are giving you money on all unused tickets back because no trains because massive flooding everywhere" policy going at the moment. For delays, it's always the mail route, but they'll process it internally, so no need for postage, and they validate it for you. Note that you can also claim seat reservations on top of bike reservations. – simbabque Aug 24 '18 at 10:30

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