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Deutsche Bahn's FAQ on the Deutschlandticket states:

Can I use an ICE/IC train with the Deutschland-Ticket if I know I will reach the destination with a considerable delay?

Yes, you have the right to do so according to statutory passenger rights if the local train has an expected delay of at least 20 minutes. To travel by long-distance train, you must first buy a ticket. The travel costs will then be reimbursed subsequently upon request by the railway company with which you travel, e.g. by the passenger rights service centre of Deutsche Bahn.

FAQ on the Deutschlandticket

As I've had the chance to find out, in case of normal, single-journey ticket, any passenger rights in case of delay apply to the delay as calculated across the whole connection. But it stands to reason that this is might be because the exact itinerary is specified on the booked ticket.

So, I'd like to ask, does the right to reimbursement of the ICE/IC ticket include delays in journeys made with multiple changes, or only across distances covered by a single regional train?

For example, suppose I wanted to use the Deutschlandticket to travel from Hengelo (in the Netherlands), to Zgorzelec (in Poland). The Deutsche Bahn journey planner, set to "local transport only", suggests the following itinerary:

Hengelo – Zgorzelec, Journey on Tue 7. Nov 2023

08:34 Hengelo – 10:27 Herford (RB 61)
-> 6 min transfer
10:33 Herford – 12:41 Braunschweig Hbf (WFB RE70)
-> 39 min transfer
13:20 Braunschweig Hbf – 14:29 Magdeburg Hbf (RB 40)
-> 6 min transfer
14:35 Magdeburg Hbf – 15:41 Halle(Saale)Hbf (RE 30)
-> 10 min transfer
15:51 Halle(Saale)Hbf – 16:28 Leipzig Hbf (tief) (S 3)
-> 32 min transfer
17:00 Leipzig Hbf – 18:24 Dresden-Neustadt (RE 50)
-> 11 min transfer
18:35 Dresden-Neustadt – 19:54 Zgorzelec (TLX RE1)

Now, suppose the RB 61 gets delayed by 10 minutes, making me miss the transfer in Herford. The next regional train connection out of Herford would have me arrive in Zgorzelec at 21:55, resulting in a delay of 121 minutes.

In that case, I could buy a ticket for a connection involving IC 2441, ICE 847, RE 2, RB 65, and a Koleje Dolnośląskie train from Görlitz to Zgorzelec, that would get me there at 17:43 – a whole 2 hours and 11 minutes earlier. Would the statutory passenger rights entitle me to reimbursement of this ticket?

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  • I am pretty sure that you are linking to an outdated FAQ. If I am not completely wrong, you are since August 15th no more entitled to use higher class trains with the Deutschlandticket if your train is delayed. The new edition of the EVO (Eisenbahnverkehrs-Verordnung) contains an excemption for tickets with a significantly reduces tariff (erheblich ermäßigtes Beförderungsentgelt). Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 8:02

1 Answer 1

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You might have chosen a poor example. If, as you describe, your first train is delayed in Herford and you miss the planned onward train 10:33, you can still catch another train 11:33 from Herford and with a slightly different route, but still using only regional trains, also reach Zgorzelec by 19:54 with the intended train.

But to answer your question in general and not limited to the exact situation you describe: The estimated delay on your point of destination is relevant, but since August 15. 2023, holders of tickets with a 'significantly reduced tariff' (erheblich ermäßigtes Beförderungsentgelt), the Deutschlandticket is explicitely mentioned as such, are no more entitled to the use of higher class trains if an expected delay can be avoided doing so.

I am fully aware that this contradicts what you have found and are linking to in DB's FAQs, but I can only assume that they have forgotten to update the information after the last changes.

Note, that the restriction only applies to your right to use a higher class train. You may still in accordance with the EU regulation on rail passengers' rights be entitled to a monetary refund or assistance like food or even lodging if you are stranded and not able to complete the journey by the end of the day.

It is not unlikely that if you seem to actually end up stranded in the evening and not being able to reach your destination, that some long distance train conductor is fair enough and lets you use a higher class train without a proper ticket. I have been in such a situation myself and although I would not at all rely on it, some DB staff are accomodating and trying to solve problems although they are not obliged to do so.

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  • I have double-checked, and the alternative no-delay connection is possible on the 8th of November, but not the 7th. Your point, of course, still stands.
    – Maya
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 12:18
  • @Maya Ah, sorry about that confusion. One of the trains you could use tomorrow is not running today due to track works. When I look closer, the connection would also tomorrow probably not work out, since there is a rail replacement bus between Hameln and Elze and you would most likely have missed the connection with a scheduled 3 minute transfer in Elze. Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 12:38
  • Regarding "ending up stranded" and hoping for the mercy of a train conductor, the most likely scenario is that I arrive in Zgorzelec, using regional trains, around 22, and then get stranded during my onward travel in Poland. Honestly, I'd rather expect "gah, you should've booked a proper long-distance ticket, crossing the entire country in a day isn't the expected usecase of the Deutschlandticket. should've used your common sense" than mercy.
    – Maya
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 16:04
  • @Maya It has unfortunately become common sense not to rely on German trains and time tables. The German train companies are however still obliged to give you the compensation and assistance you are entitled to according to the EU regulation if you are delayed. You must expect that the train companies will fight your claims so long that you will spend more time and effort to get your compensation than what the compensation is worth. Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 16:42
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    Also one important exception: the regulation where you can take an ICE or other train and get the money back afterwards does still apply if you otherwise could not get to your target until midnight or if you planned to get there from 00:00-05:00. You get up to 120€ reimbursed then, even for a taxi or so. See the official EBA examples.
    – rugk
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 0:18

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