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I am planning to book a Super Sparpreis ticket from A to C via B, where the A-B leg is on regional (RE/S-Bahn) train and the B-C leg is on a long distance (IC/ICE) train.

Though the Super Sparpreis fare is for train-specific travel, this does not apply to regional trains (emphasis mine):

If you have a super saver fare ticket, you can only travel on the service indicated on the ticket. The offers are available for ICE, IC/EC connections within Germany. You can use local rail services (e.g. RE, RB, IRE and S-Bahn or non-DB trains) to get to/from the long-distance station if you include them in your booking. You are not restricted to travelling on a specific train when using local rail services. However, your journey must be completed by 10 am the following day.

Normally, if a connection is missed due to a delay or cancellation, one can simply use the next train with the same ticket.

But I wonder how this works in this specific scenario, where the regional leg is flexible and the long-distance leg is fixed. Suppose, for example, when buying the ticket, for A-B I select a train leaving A at 9:00 am and reaching B at 9:30 am, and then a train leaving B for C at 10:30 am. Later, I find that there is another A-B connection that leaves at 9:30 am and reaches at 10:00 am, which would leave me plenty of time to take the B-C connection.

Now, what happens if I decide to take this second train at 9:30 am, and it ends up being delayed or cancelled, making me miss my B-C connection? Will I still be allowed to take any subsequent train from B to C, or would I be at fault for not having taken the 9:00 am train from A?

I am not trying to find any loopholes, but I would like to understand how risky it is to make use of this apparent flexibility that is being offered. I can also imagine this scenario occurring in other ways, for example, if I take an earlier A-B connection that goes on a different route, and suddenly gets cancelled at an intermediate station. It would be helpful to know my options if the situation ever arises.


As requested in the comments, the following is an example, where A = Speyer Hbf, B = Mannheim Hbf, C = München Hbf, for 06/12/2022. As an additional note, I get this when I specify a minimum stopover duration in Mannheim (1 hr in this case):

Example

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    Yes, it is relevant for your question that you specified a minimum stopover duration. If you don't, bahn.com gives you the shortest "legal" connection, and choosing any later train voids any passenger rights. In your situation, there are trains that are otherwise considered "legal" connections, but don't meet your stopover time and are therefore not shown. See my comment below Hilmars answer for my suggestion how to solve this "conflict".
    – Sabine
    Dec 5, 2022 at 20:22

3 Answers 3

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When you buy the ticket you choose a specific itinerary. The ticket you buy will list all connections of that itinerary. When issuing the ticket Bahn will check that all connections of this specific itinerary are "legal", i.e. meet the internal rules and requirements for the specific connections involved.

Bahn will only accept responsibility for a delay if you use the ticket as booked. If you choose to ride a different itinerary, you are responsible for making the subsequent connections.

The only way Bahn can determine whether they are at fault or not is to look at the ticket as booked.

Later, I find that there is another A-B connection that leaves at 9:30 am and reaches at 10:00 am

That is fairly unlikely. If that train was available at booking, you would have already had the option to book it right then and there. So the only way this can happen would be an addition to the schedule or a non-trivial change to an existing schedule between booking and travel date. That is quite rare.

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    @GoodDeeds Could you mention specifically what your A, B and C are? I don't remember ever seeing bahn.com display several regional trains all connecting to the same long-distance train at the same station. In my experience, they will only display the last incoming train that is "legal".
    – Sabine
    Dec 5, 2022 at 18:06
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    @GoodDeeds: I tried to reword this a bit. You buy one specific itinerary which lists all connections that a part of this itinerary (not any other one). So in your example: if you buy the first itinerary you are fully protected if S4 is late. I you choose take RE 4 instead and it's delayed that is your problem (unless you luck out and S4 is delayed too)
    – Hilmar
    Dec 5, 2022 at 19:52
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    @GoodDeeds My suggestion: Remove your minimum stopover time before booking, choose the latest connection to leave Speyer that gets you to Mannheim in time for your preferred ICE, then you know exactly which train is the last that gets you to Mannheim while still maintaining your passenger rights. Of course, you're then free to use any earlier train, including the ones you are looking at right now.
    – Sabine
    Dec 5, 2022 at 19:57
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    @Hilmar The ticket doesn't list any of the regional trains, just the route. There's an additional itinerary slip, but this is just for your information. Hence, you can't be bound to a specific regional train, as long as the one you chose offers a reasonable connection time.
    – asdfex
    Dec 6, 2022 at 12:34
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    @Hilmar The ticket is just the ~ upper third in the A4 print-out. The route and trains you have to take is only given in a slightly cryptic string of acronyms. The full detailed list of trains, times and platforms is not part of the actual ticket.
    – asdfex
    Dec 6, 2022 at 15:38
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You can e.g. especially book a ticket with a stop and some waiting time in B.

Even if it is a Sparpreis ticket, you correctly quoted Zugbindung does not apply there, so you can take any regional train. If you decide to do that, and that train get's delayed too late, so that you cannot take the ICE from there, yes your Zugbindung deoes no longer exist (provided of course the expected delay at your destination is >= 20min, but that likely will be the case). It does not matter what regional train is printed on your ticket, as that is, as said, not part of the ticket. Only the upper part is relevant and there you have some route instructions with some letters. If you later submit your claim, you anyway specify there, which trains you really took.

What matters is only the stopover time DB calculates you need. Because what obviously is not possible is to take a train at the start knowing it will be delayed or impossible to catch the connecting train at the end. They may not take it too strict, but legally speaking passenger rights of course only apply, if you did not expect/know the delay when booking. DB AFAIK internally has a expected stepover time for different stations, e.g. in larger ones they will have a bigger time. So, rest assured, even if you arrive 10:59 at the station and your connecting train is about to run 11:02 you likely already have no Zugbindung anymore, because they know it is quite impossible to run there and still get the train. (If you can you may do of course, but you don't need to.)

Note a good idea in such a case is to search the connection in the DB Navigator app (or somewhere else). It calculates this and shows you whether a connection is (still) possible (even with whatever delay you may have). It shows you with a red icon if your transfer is not possible and as soon as you see that (and you have that 20min expected target-delay as stated) you have no Zugbindung anymore. (Though I am unsure what to expect when the train then catch up on the delay.)

FYI DB also (newly?) has a rule that even if you have a Zugbindung, if you somehow catch any earlier train than what is stated in your ticket, you again have a flexible ticket, i.e. no Zugbindung anymore.

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The only thing that really matters is this: Who's fault is it you missed a booked train. If it is the railways' fault you can take the next train. If it is your fault you cannot.

A lot of people in Germany now have the 49,- euro ticket. These people will only buy a ticket for the long distance part, and will use their 49 euro ticket for any local travel preceding it. If you plan your trip with legal connections (ie. what the trip planner shows) and you miss a connection you can without issue take another train than the one you booked.

(And when we talk about "the railways' fault" this doesn't even have to be Deutsche Bahn...)

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  • Thanks, but I don't think the part about the Deutschland ticket is true: at int.bahn.de/en/offers/regional/deutschland-ticket, it says "The Deutschland-Ticket can be used before and after a journey on a long-distance train. However, a separate ticket is always required for the long-distance journey. This may have implications for passenger rights. If you miss the long-distance train you have booked following your journey on a local/regional service, you are not entitled to travel on another train with the same ticket and cannot claim a refund."
    – GoodDeeds
    Nov 19, 2023 at 11:46
  • So even if the connection is legal, one cannot claim reimbursement for a missed ICE because an RE on the Deutschland ticket got delayed, isn't it? It's only possible if both the legs were on the same ticket, as I understand it.
    – GoodDeeds
    Nov 19, 2023 at 11:47

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