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I have a Rail&Fly ticket with Air Europa to FRA and then to a rail station in eastern Germany a around 4 hours away. The last segment of my ticket is marked as FRA to QYG. The flight is scheduled to arrive on January 29th, by then there will be a strike affecting most trains in Germany and it's unclear whether I will be able to reach my destination.

I also checked buses, but they are fully booked. I tried a web search, but couldn't find any information about my rights in case there's no train connection, and it's also unclear whether this should be complained with the Airline or Deutsche Bahn. Any advice on the topic would be greatly appreciated.

Edit 1: 20 % of the trains are currently running and I have a ticket scheduled via Frankfurt Hbf later in the afternoon. A DB representative already confirmed me that these trains will run today.
Wish me luck

Edit 2: Surprisingly, the only train available in the afternoon was less than 50% full and it arrived on time. If it wasn't for the limited time schedule, I could say it's running better than on a normal day.

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    For those who are interested, the strike has prematurely ended, instead of lasting until Monday 18:00. An aggreement has also been made that there will be no more railway strikes until 2024-03-03. 2024-01-27 14:24: Streik endet vorzeitig: Bahn und GDL verhandeln wieder Jan 27 at 13:34
  • I'm not fluent in German, but if I understand correctly, the strike hasn't "prematurely ended". It will end prematurely on the early hours of Monday, instead of lasting until 18:00.
    – André
    Jan 27 at 16:34
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    Yes, the present headline (16:23) has changed. The strike by train drivers in Deutsche Bahn's passenger transport service ends early on Monday at 2 a.m. ... A peace obligation that excludes further strikes is to apply until March 3. The peace obligation could be extended. Jan 27 at 19:27

5 Answers 5

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In terms of rights for the whole flight+train combination, they are quite limited. The Interpretative Guidelines for EC261 tell us in no uncertain terms:

6. COMPENSATION, REIMBURSEMENT, RE-ROUTING AND CARE IN THE CASE OF MULTIMODAL JOURNEYS

Multimodal journeys involving more than one mode of transport under a single transport contract (e.g. a journey by rail and air sold as a single journey) are not covered as such under the Regulation, nor are they covered by any Union legislation on passenger rights in other modes of transport. If a passenger misses a flight because of a delayed train, he or she would only benefit from the rights to compensation and assistance granted by Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council (54) in relation to the rail journey, and then only if the passenger was delayed by more than 60 minutes at the destination (55). By the same token, other provisions would apply in the case of a flight missed following a delayed ship or coach journey in the context of a single contract of carriage (56). However, organisers of packages may be liable under Directive 90/314/EEC or Directive (EU) 2015/2302 also for the missed flights and the impact on the package as a whole if the multimodal journey forms part of a combination with other travel services, e.g. accommodation.

(emphasis mine)

So if the train does not run, then it's not covered by EC261 but by 2021/782. The corresponding rights are explained on the EC's Rail passenger rights website:

If you are delayed due to a cancelled train, meaning you would arrive at your final destination with a delay of more than 60 minutes, you have the right to choose between:

  • a refund of your ticket within 30 days – this may be a full or partial refund (covering the part of the journey not made), and a return journey to your initial point of departure, if, the delay due to the cancelled train prevents you from fulfilling the purpose of your trip, or

  • continuing or re-routing your journey under comparable conditions to reach your final destination at the earliest opportunity, at no additional cost, or

  • continuing or re-routing your journey at a later date of your choosing under comparable conditions, at no additional cost. This includes alternative transport to get you to your final destination when the train is blocked and the service is suspended.

Assistance and alternative travel arrangements

In addition, you are entitled to assistance in the form of meals and refreshments (proportionate to the waiting time). You also have a right to a hotel or other accomodation - where and when physically possible - if you have to stay overnight or an additional stay is necessary due to the cancelled train. This includes a right to transport between the hotel/accommodation and the station.

In the event of a cancellation, the railway company may allow you, upon request, to make your own alternative travel arrangements with other transport service providers (including rail and other modes of transport) which would enable you to reach your final destination under comparable conditions. In this case, the railway company will reimburse the costs you incurred.

However, if the railway company does not inform you of the available re-routing options within 100 minutes of the scheduled departure of the cancelled train, you are entitled to make your own alternative travel arrangements without the agreement of the railway company with other public transport services i.e. rail, coach or bus. The railway company must then reimburse the necessary, appropriate and reasonable costs that you incurred making these alternative arrangements.

Even if you decide to continue your journey as planned or accept alternative transport to your destination, you may also be entitled to compensation if your arrival is delayed by 60 minutes or more. Note that national rules in some EU countries may grant more favourable re-routing conditions to passengers.

There's also compensation of 25% or 50% of the ticket price if the delay in arriving at your destination is over 1 or 2 hours, respectively. They will try to invoke extraordinary circumstances, but strikes by their own personnel are explicitly excluded of extraordinary circumstances.

Note however that some trains may be exempted. "Domestic" trains in Germany are in scope, but "Urban, suburban and regional services" may not be.

Still, I would be extremely surprised if you managed to get any practical help from DB in this situation. Your best bets are probably:

  • Check if the airline is able to reroute you to an airport closer to your destination or somehow more practical
  • If the strike does not affect ALL trains, and you can know in advance which ones still run, try to move your booking to a train which runs
  • If you can drive, to rent a car
  • If you can't or prefer not to, to use a long-distance ride-sharing service such as BlaBlaCar (no idea if there are local equivalents in Germany)

You should be able to get either:

  • a refund of the part of your ticket for the train travel
  • or a refund of your costs to get to your destination by other means + compensation if that gets you there over an hour late

But it will probably take quite a while, and expect some pushback.

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    No need to "move your booking". OP can use any train that runs. However, OP might have to stand or sit on the floor.
    – gerrit
    Jan 23 at 16:53
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Ouch.

That happened to me last time in Germany and I ended up spending the night in a hotel in Frankfurt (on my own dime). I would highly recommend starting looking for rooms right now, before they all sell out.

Rail & Fly typically means you have two separate tickets (one for the flight and one for the train). It's unlikely that the airline will do anything for you, at least they will likely refuse initially. This may depend a bit on whether you made one payment or two separate payments.

You are entitled to compensation and assistance by the train provider but that's going to be super messy since there will be 1000s of other people trying to do the same thing.

To make things even more messy: the whole topic of compensation for "rail and fly" delays has been in front of the courts already a few times and the decisions have not been particularly consistent.

I would in that order:

  1. Check for a hotel and see if you can find something reasonable. If it looks like rooms are disappearing fast, just grab one. If you see good availability, you can try contacting the providers first.
  2. Contact the airline (if there isn't too much of a wait)
  3. Try to contact the train provider (good luck with that one). Maybe use the app (if you have it).
  4. Book a hotel yourself or look at renting a car (during the last strike cars at FRA were sold out).

Your existing ticket will still be good when the trains run again, so your main concern is what to do until then.

If you speak German, here are some guidelines:

https://www.verbraucherzentrale.de/wissen/reise-mobilitaet/unterwegs-sein/bahnstreik-diese-fahrgastrechte-gelten-wenn-die-zuege-stillstehen-32226

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    I would add that the strike is scheduled to end on the 29th at 6pm. So Tuesday trains should run again. From experience the schedule will still be a huge mess with massive delays all over the place and it will be super crowded but with patience it should be possible to take the train one day later.
    – quarague
    Jan 23 at 7:53
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    If car rentals/hotels in Frankfurt are sold out, check the surrounding cities. Darmstadt, Wiesbaden, Mainz are all reachable by bus (albeit not as fast). I don't know if Langen also has car rental venues. Jan 23 at 10:04
  • this answer doesn't look right. are you sure that you know all details and rights in such case? Jan 23 at 12:03
  • Thank you for the answer, what a mess I'm in, but this information is really valuable. For item 3, which app are you talking about? I have DB Navigator.
    – André
    Jan 23 at 12:05
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    @André I can't find such an option either in the German version except for the mail address [email protected].
    – scai
    Jan 25 at 11:48
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Maybe you can find a Mitfahrgelegenheit (ridesharing company, according to Wiki). I found a surprisingly large number of sites offering it:

I do not know how they work now, but generally, you find someone who is going to make the same journey as you and book a ride with that person. Normally, you need to exchange phone numbers and you should agree on a price beforehand. As usually with private offers you may be lucky and have a nice company or in the worst case people may cancel the ride spontaneously. So, there is the usual risk of private rides but given that there aren't many other options I thought I'd mention it.

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    I've had a reasonably good experience with BlaBlaCar a few years back as a driver. They have measures in place to prevent sharing of phone numbers (in order to not lose their commission), but it's been pretty reliable other than that.
    – towe
    Jan 23 at 14:14
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Depending on when exactly your flight arrives, another option is to get a second plane ticket to your destination:

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I.e. if you're going to Dresden or Leipzig you might be able to catch a flight there. Or you could, for example, fly to Prague and catch a bus or rent a car from there to your destination.

Finally, remember that canceling or rescheduling your trip is always an option. Depending on your time and budget constraints, it might be easier to just not go at all.

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According to a ruling by the BGH (29. Juni 2021 (Az. X ZR 29/20)) your travel agent might be responsible - that is, if looking at what your agent offered to you in material, you believe, that the transfer is part of the journey (i.e., you payed a single price), then your agent is responsible for compensation.

On a side note: Depending on where you go - Flixtrain and most other non-DB train operators are not on strike. Your ticket might be good for them, too.

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  • Would be nice to know what type of compensation and how to claim it?
    – André
    Jan 24 at 23:05
  • This very much depends on the location of your travel agent.
    – Jens
    Jan 26 at 9:14
  • It was bought directly with Air Europa
    – André
    Jan 26 at 9:51
  • Tough luck - in this case, your options are limited
    – Jens
    Jan 26 at 11:15

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