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I have an overnight train journey Stockholm–Hamburg, in about 10 days from now, booked through SJ (Swedish railways). I was just notified that due to track works, the train will terminate not at Hamburg-Altona (a fairly central station) as originally scheduled+booked, but at Pinneberg (on the outskirts of the Hamburg local transit network), due to track maintenance.

So to reach my original destination, I’ll need to take a short extra S-Bahn journey. Should I be eligible for reimbursement for the cost of this journey? In the notification of the rerouting, SJ recommend this S-Bahn connection, but have not offered any booking for it.

(In this case, the cost is small enough that it’s probably not worth the trouble of claiming anyway. But I’m interested now to find out the general principle — all summaries I can find of rail passengers’ rights, e.g. here, focus on cancellations and delays, but don’t discuss route changes like this.)

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    I think that quite probably you will be able to continue your journey to Hamburg using your night train ticket. You have a ticket till Hamburg after all. Mar 7, 2023 at 13:43
  • It might help if you could state where you got the ticket from (Deutsche Bahn?)
    – asdfex
    Mar 7, 2023 at 15:27
  • @asdfex: thanks, good point — edited to clarify, booked directly with SJ.
    – PLL
    Mar 7, 2023 at 15:35
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    Did you check if the S-Bahn actually runs in that day/at that time? If your train can’t get further it’s possible other trains are impacted as well.
    – jcaron
    Mar 7, 2023 at 19:56
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    @jcaron The S-Bahn runs on different tracks. Mar 7, 2023 at 21:10

4 Answers 4

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Interrail tell us:

Due to urgent construction work in Germany, SJ EuroNight services will be affected from March 3 to 19.

The SJ Euronight will depart and arrive at Pinneberg station north of Hamburg. Please make sure to reach Pinneberg station on time and note the new departure times of these services.

To get to and from Pinneberg, you need to take the S-bahn (metro service). During this period, the ticket for the SJ Euronight will be valid on the S-bahn route Pinneberg – Hamburg Altona – Hamburg Hbf.

Please note that you must take the S-bahn earlier from Hamburg Altona to get to Pinneberg before the train's departure time. With all overground rail lines to and from Hamburg-Altona blocked, Pinneberg is only reachable via the S-bahn.

Since DB's long-distance services from the rest of Germany will also not be able to contact in Hamburg-Altona, the most suitable way to reach Pinneberg is via the Hamburg S-Bahn line S3. The S-Bahn avoids the problem due to its separate track ("Stromschiene").

Please be aware of the new departure times for the following services:

March 4 to 17 SJ Euronight services depart from Pinneberg Station platform 3 at 21:29 CET.

March 18-19 SJ Euronight services now depart from Pinneberg Station platform 3 at 17:55 CET.

(Emphasis mine)

So S-Bahn ticket included, likely no other form of compensation, as the final delay should be below required minima.

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    Aha, fantastic — great to have an authoritative answer! If only SJ had given such detail with their notification.
    – PLL
    Mar 7, 2023 at 23:21
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When you have a ticket from A to B the railway commits itself to getting you to B. So if a change in operation of train means that you cannot get to B on the original train they must just offer you an alternative.

In this case SJ has offered you an alternative: the S-Bahn from Pinnenberg. That they did not "book" it for you is because there is no such thing as a booking for an S-Bahn. You just take the S-Bahn, and if you were to happen to encounter a conductor (those trains operate without) you can just show your train ticket.

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  • Thankyou! By “book the S-Bahn”, I didn’t mean “make a reservation”, I meant “provide a valid ticket”. The phrasing in the notification is just “We refer you to connecting S-Bahn from Pinneberg” — I’d read that as just advice to use it, but if it means the SJ ticket should be valid for it, then of course that’s absolutely fine!
    – PLL
    Mar 7, 2023 at 14:21
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    In some cases, though, you may be expected to buy an extra ticket, and later claim for a compensation (more likely in the case where you need to travel on a different mode, e.g. a taxi or a bus)
    – njzk2
    Mar 8, 2023 at 11:41
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On top of the S-Bahn being included in your ticket at not additional cost because of the re-routing, you're also potentially eligible for compensation if you arrive later than planned.

If you arrive more than an hour later than planned at Hamburg-Altona, you're eligible to 25% of the ticket price: https://www.sj.se/en/compensation-rights.html

You can ask the train attendant for the relevant form during the journey, or apply online.

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  • The one-hour rule derives from EU rights, so it doesn't matter whether OP booked with DB or SJ. However, I'm not sure if compensation applies for cases announced well in advance.
    – gerrit
    Mar 8, 2023 at 7:35
  • EU rights are applied differently, though. In France it starts at 30 minutes. I'll update with the relevant information about SJ. I'm not sure whether it applies, although it doesn't hurt to apply if the delay is 1h
    – njzk2
    Mar 8, 2023 at 11:39
  • National or company rules can be more generous than the EU minimum, but they cannot be less generous. One hour is, I think, the EU minimum. SJ Euronight starting in Sweden, Swedish rules should apply. It may be that either DB or SJ decide to be more generous than Swedish minimum rules, but I don't know if what counts is where one books or under whose responsibility the train runs.
    – gerrit
    Mar 8, 2023 at 22:15
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So to reach my original destination, I’ll need to take a short extra S-Bahn journey. Should I be eligible for reimbursement for this extra cost?

No, in the large majority of the transport world, a delay is calculated to your original destination, which means that a route change would likely count in an eventual delay compensation. So, you would need to be forced to arrive at Altona one hour late to claim it

The travel time from Pinneberg to Altona is ~25 min, which is far from the 1h min. that would be needed to claim a delay compensation.

Now, it is possible that some conditions at SJ would allow them to give you a ticket (look at the email, it may contain information about what you are supposed to do)

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  • I don’t quite follow this — I appreciate that “a delay is calculated to your original destination”, but surely that’s assuming the operator actually delivers you to the original destination?
    – PLL
    Mar 7, 2023 at 12:50
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    They are not asking for reimbursement for the delay, but reimbursement for the cost of the S-Bahn ticket.
    – user253751
    Mar 7, 2023 at 13:16
  • @user253751: right — I realise now my original phrasing may have been unclear. I’m not asking about delay compensation — I’m asking about reimbursement for the additional cost of reaching my originally-booked destination. So it’s closer to a “cancellation” situation than a “delay” situation.
    – PLL
    Mar 7, 2023 at 13:28

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