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During some recent travels in Europe using an Interrail pass, I experienced some significant delays. Is there a compensation scheme?

While most cases may cause some minor inconveniences, I ran into a situation that nearly jeopardized my whole trip.

Detail of the cases:

Basel to Brussels via Frankfurt

The ICE train from Basel arrived at Frankfurt Hbf too late. Missed the last connection to Brussels. A Deutsche Bahn representative told me to catch the next train to Cologne, which I did. From there, another representative gave us taxi vouchers to reach Brussels, with immediate departure. Pretty long taxi ride; took 2h30 on the freeway and the meter racked up 520€. Fortunately, we did not have to advance any money.

I ended up in Brussels about 2 h 30 min late. No big deal, as I had to check into a hotel, apart from the local transportation that stopped running at that time, which made it a bit more difficult to get to my hotel with my bags.

From Italy to Sweden through Germany

I started in Genoa, Italy, and had to be in Stockholm two days later.

I took a Nightjet sleeper train to Munich (day 1 to 2), supposed to arrive at 9-10am. From there, my plan was to take an ICE to Berlin, and catch my second sleeper train to Stockholm (day 2 to 3) leaving around 18h30. I elaborated this plan as it would allow me to wander in the connecting cities, and have some buffer in case of delays.

In the morning of day 2, we were stuck at Villach Hbf (south of Austria) for a long time. The timetable told we should have left at 4:30 in the morning; it was 8:00. Apparently, we were waiting for another sleeper train from Rome in order to attach the two trains together and continue to Munich as one single consist.

With my sleeper cabin mate, we noticed an Eurocity was due to stop at Villach at 9am. We abandoned to Nightjet to catch the EC. The idea was wise, as the Nightjet caught up with us at Salzburg but we were quicker to reach München Hbf. It was past 13:00; we had more than 3 hours of delay.

I had to catch the next ICE to Berlin; the connection was tight. Then had to take a local train to get to Berlin Gesundbrunnen, supposed to arrive at the exact minute my sleeper train to Stockholm was due to leave.

Fortunately, the sleeper train to Stockholm was 20 minutes late, and I got it.

Had it been on time, my whole trip would have been ruined. I would have had to get a hotel, and use day trains the next morning or the next sleeper to reach my destination. This would have required me to use an additional travel day on my pass, or pay for tickets if I had no days left. And, specific to this route, there are chances I would not have been able to book at all, because that specific sleeper is often sold out. The only alternative day leg of Hamburg to Copenhagen is reservation-mandatory in the summer months, and often sold out as well. Not a minor inconvenience.

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  • If you, because of a delay, need an extra travel day contact the operating company (like asking a train guard) before you use an extra day of your pass or buy a ticket. It is easier to get a 'delayed passenger extra day' than a refund for a bought ticket.
    – Willeke
    Jun 5, 2023 at 17:37

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The general rules and compensation tables for delay compensation for Interrail tickets can be found here. https://www.interrail.eu/en/support/delay-compensation

That seems to be straights forward enough as long as all tickets were bought and reservations were made through Interrail.

Note that claims for an "collateral damage" are specifically excluded (as is the case for almost all transportation companies)

Claims for reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of sustained delay, e.g. for alternative means of transportation, accommodation, etc., fall outside this policy. Such claims should be submitted directly to the railway undertaking where the delay was incurred

Since this process involves at least two different legal parties (interrail and one or more train operators) expect some finger pointing. You may have to be persistent here.

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