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We decided to travel to Croatia using ferry, train and coach from the UK. We had booked our train tickets through DB and actually had three trains on that ticket. We successfully caught our first train from Bruges to Brussels. We were then due to catch a train to Frankfurt and then a further connection onwards to Munich. We then had an overnight train to Zagreb.

Our train from Brussels to Frankfurt was cancelled and the solution from Belgian Railways was to catch a train towards the Belgian/German border from where buses would take us to Aachen. This is because it was a German service. From there we had to catch a train to Cologne and then a train to Munich. Obviously we missed our connection from Frankfurt and then from Munich as we didn't arrive in Munich until 1.45am (we were due at 21.20). We had to pay for coach tickets from Munich to Zagreb so we didn't lose a day of our holiday.

Which parts of that should DB compensate us for?

EDIT:

Thought I should add a little more detail. Our train from Bruges-Brussels, Brussels-Frankfurt and then Frankfurt-Munich were booked through DB. Our train from Munich to Zagreb was booked through Austrian Railways.

On being told by Belgian Railways that the train was cancelled I told them that we had an onward connection from Munich that evening. The guy spoke to his supervisor and he said that we'd need to get into Germany and speak to someone. Once we reached Verviers there was a bus to Aachen station. From there we were on our own. There were 2 people trying to assist the hundreds who had arrived on buses. We sort of pushed in and tried to explain that we needed to get to Munich for our onward connection. We were given a printout of train times to Munich and that was it.

When we got to Cologne I went to the Travel Centre and explained the situation and the staff member stamped my ticket and gave me a complaints form. She then suggested a direct train to Munich which was due to arrive at about 1.30am. She said that when we arrived in Munich we should go to the Travel Centre and they would give us a hotel voucher.

En route we had to decide what our options were. If we arrived at 1.30am and then had to find a hotel it would mean that we'd probably be in the hotel for no more than 4 hours before we had to return to the station for the 8.20 train to Zagreb. On arrival in Zagreb we had a 7 hour coach journey to our destination. This would have meant that getting the train to Zagreb the following morning would mean we would arrive in Zagreb at 17.00 and even if we were able to get on a coach straight within the hour we wouldn't arrive at our destination until 3.00 or 4.00am the following morning and we had no idea if we'd be able to get into our accommodation at that time. So we looked at other options and found a coach that left at 3.15am from Munich arriving in Zagreb at 11am, only 2.5 hours after our original arrival time. We thought this was a better option. There was nobody on the train who we could clarify this with, the only staff onboard didn't even bother looking at our tickets. So we went ahead and booked the coach.

By the time we arrived in Munich it was 1.45 and the Travel Centre was just closing for the night. I went and explained our situation but there was no offer of a hotel or an offer to pay for a hotel, just another stamped form. So we continued with our coach booking just so we could keep on moving and get to our holiday quicker.

Hope this clarifies a few details!

  • Probably nothing. In case of a delay, DB is only required to and would have put you on the next train to Zagreb. A delay at the final destination, if more than two hours, would have entitled you to a 50% refund of the ticket price. If you decide to interrupt the train journey and continue with other means of transport, DB is not liable for any costs related to that. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Aug 27 at 16:20
  • @Traveller This is not a duplicate of the question you are linking to. In the linked question, OP continued the journey and was looking for compensation for the delay. In this case, OP interrupted the original journey and bought tickets for replacement transport. This is a different situation. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Aug 27 at 16:28
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo By which other means of transport was the journey interupted? The Belgish train and Bus to Aachen? Looks like a valid train replacement to me. – Bernhard Döbler Aug 27 at 16:57
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    You write you had three trains on that ticket, but then you mention four legs (Bruges-Brussels-Frankfurt-Munich-Zagreb). Which legs exactly were on the ticket that DB sold you? Was there a separate ticket with a different carrier for the other one? – Federico Poloni Aug 27 at 17:52
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    @BernhardDöbler As I understand the question, the train ticket was with a transfer in Munich for the last train that day to Zagreb. Since the incoming train in Munich was delayed and the anticipated connection was not reached, OP bought bus tickets instead for the last leg from Munich to Zagreb to minimize the delay in Zagreb, interrupted therefore the planned train journey and did not use the train ticket for the last leg. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Aug 27 at 18:18
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Deutsch Bahn (in line with European legislation) gives you pretty comprehensive rights when trains are delayed and cancelled. So you'll get some money back, and it may even be more than the bus fare.

What you'll get exactly depends a bit on things you did not write here. You didn't say wether you discussed the situation with the rail staff or what you were offered by them.

In general, in this situation, I'd expect DB to put you up in a Hotel for the night and then onto the next train to Zagreb (which would have been at 8:17am from Munich, with arrival in Zagreb at 17:19). My experience is that you can also negotiate a voucher for onward transportation instead of the hotel.

However, if you take alternative transportation without consulting the rail staff, then you'll only get a refund in very limited circumstances and only if you had no chance of contacting them. Even then it is capped at 80 EUR per person.

What you get back

If you "abandoned" you rail journey at Munich, because you didn't like the offer that Deutsche Bahn made: You should get a complete refund for the Munich-Zagreb leg, including all surcharges (e.g. for sleeping compartments). You'll also get a refund for all unused seat reservations and surcharges for trains that you could not use on the Bruges-Munich leg (e.g. if you paid high-speed surcharge but travelled on a local train).

On the other hand, if you "completed" the journey, (e.g. if you negotiated the bus a a replacement), you would get a refund of half of the overall ticket price. Again, you should also get reservations refunded in full, including surcharges for sleeping compartments.

All of this assumes that all jouneys are on the same ticket that you bought from Deutsche Bahn. As they sold you the ticket, all requests for reimbursement should be made through Deutsche Bahn, as they sold the tickets.

Make the claim

I already linked the passenger rights information above. The english version is not quite as comprehensive as the german one, but should give you the gist.

You can download the claims form from their site. You have to submit your original ticket (or a printout of the e-ticket) with your request. Usually you don't need to submit proof for the delay itself, as they will have it in their system.

Side note

In a situation like this, it can help to check for alternative connections on your own as soon as things start to go wrong. You are entitled to use any alternative train to your destination, and you can check the "DB Navigator App" or online timetable for alternatives. If you get hold of the conductor, they'll also usually look up alternative connections for you.

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