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In North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) - Germany there exists an agreement between different regional transit operators (NRW Mobilitätsgarantie) to reimburse you a long-distance / high speed train ticket should your original regional connection be delayed by more than 20 minutes on departure. You still have to purchase a new ticket for your new connection, then afterward the costs are refunded by the operator of the original ticket.

Simultaneously Deutsche Bahn (DB) refunds 25% of the ticket price on delay of more than 60 minutes at destination.

Now imagine a trip between Dortmund and Köln on a regional train. This train is delayed by more than 20 minutes at Dortmund from a previous journey. This allows me to take me a high speed train for that route, and it just so happens that a ICE is delayed by more than 60 minutes, but now well suited for my planned departure time. So I spontaneously purchase a ticket for this train. What stops me from claiming a refund through both NRW Mobilitätsgarantie and DB, effectively earning a net 25% of the ticket price? In the eyes of the regional train operator I take a replacement service, in the eyes of DB I begin a completely unrelated journey.

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    I would honestly doubt that you are entitled to a partial refund of the long distance train ticket if you already knew when buying the ticket, that the train is delayed. Aug 9, 2023 at 12:27
  • What will stop you is the amount of time and effort required to process the refund request. The Deutsche Bahn bureaucratic obstacles you will encounter are unlikely to justify the small amount of compensation that you may, or may not, be entitled to.
    – jcklopp
    Aug 9, 2023 at 14:40
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    @jcklopp The process was surprisingly easy and processing stunningly fast (for German bureaucracy, that is!)
    – YPOC
    Aug 9, 2023 at 14:54
  • There is no refund for delayed trains at all. You're entitled for a refund if YOU are delayed. If you buy a ticket and instantly hop onto a train, you're not delayed.
    – asdfex
    Aug 10, 2023 at 10:19

1 Answer 1

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No, you cannot do this. The 25% refund after a delay of 60 minutes does not apply when the delay is already known at the time you purchase the ticket.

The 25% refund after 60 minute delay (and 50% after 120 minutes) isn't really a DB policy, it is required by EU regulations. Specifically, by article 19 of Verordnung (EU) 2021/782 über die Rechte und Pflichten der Fahrgäste im Eisenbahnverkehr (Neufassung), as linked directly from DB's German website section on passenger rights.

English and other language versions are available here.

The part which prevents your scenario from working is article 19(9):

Fahrgäste haben keinen Anspruch auf Entschädigung, wenn sie bereits vor dem Fahrkartenkauf über eine Verspätung informiert wurden oder wenn bei ihrer Ankunft am Zielort eine Verspätung aufgrund der Fortsetzung der Reise mit einem anderen Verkehrsdienst oder mit geänderter Streckenführung weniger als 60 Minuten beträg

or in the English version:

Passengers shall not have any right to compensation if they are informed of a delay before buying a ticket, or if a delay due to continuation on a different service or re-routing remains below 60 minutes.

(emphasis mine in both cases)

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