How do I check the earlier punctuality of the trains

Federal Railway Office

Subject: Law

In detail, the law provides for the following improvements for passengers:

Unpunctuality and cancellation of long-distance and local trains

  • If a train is delayed or canceled, the railway company must generally pay the passenger compensation. This is calculated as follows: If the passenger arrives at the destination with at least 60 minutes late, 25% of the fare must be compensated. If the delay is at least 120 minutes, 50% of the fare must be compensated. The value of the ticket for a connection is always used as a basis, i.e. for tickets for outward and return journeys, half the fare paid is calculated as the basis for the percentage compensation. According to a ruling by the European Court of Justice on September 26, 2013 (ruling: file number C-509/11), the passenger is entitled to compensation even if the delay is due to force majeure. Under certain conditions, the railway company must also offer free hotel accommodation or replacement transport in the event of delays or cancellations of trains.

example: Passenger F would like to take the train from Darmstadt to Kiel. The ticket cost 117 euros. The regional train is expected to arrive in Frankfurt am Main at 1:48 p.m. the planned connecting train is to leave for Kiel at 1:58 p.m. and arrive there at 6:46 p.m. The regional train in Frankfurt am Main is 30 minutes late, so F missed the train to Kiel. F does not arrive in Kiel until 8:02 p.m. Since F reaches his destination more than 60 minutes late, he will be reimbursed 25% of the fare, i.e. 29.25 euros.
Special rules apply to season tickets such as the Bahncard 100, weekly, monthly or annual tickets. The flat rates mentioned do not apply here. In these cases, however, the railway undertakings are obliged to include appropriate compensation in their conditions of carriage if the passenger is repeatedly delayed. You cannot completely free yourself from your obligation to pay compensation.

  • The railway company can refrain from paying if the compensation amount is less than 4 euros (de minimis limit).

example: F takes the regional train from Lathen to Emsdetten. The fare is 15.20 euros and the scheduled arrival is at 2.36 p.m. In fact, F reaches Emsdetten an hour later. However, F does not receive any fare compensation in the amount of 25% of the fare, as the amount would be 3.80 euros and is therefore below the de minimis limit.

  • If a delay of more than 60 minutes becomes apparent, the passenger can also refrain from a trip and request a refund of the fare or take the trip at a later point in time with a changed route.
  • In the event of a delay of more than 60 minutes in long-distance passenger rail transport, passengers are to be offered free meals and refreshments in an appropriate framework where this is possible.


Unpunctuality and cancellation of trains in local transport

For local transport, more extensive regulations are in place compared to the European requirements. Local transport is when, in the majority of cases of transport by train, the travel distance is no more than 50 kilometers or the travel time is no more than an hour. Here, a fare compensation is usually only of little attractiveness because the tickets are comparatively inexpensive. The focus here is primarily on the passenger's interest in reaching their local transport destination as quickly as possible.

  • If it is foreseeable that the passenger with a ticket valid only for local transport will reach his destination at least 20 minutes late due to a lack of punctuality or cancellation of a train in local transport, he can use another train, in particular a long-distance train. However, the use of a train that requires a reservation or a train that makes a special trip cannot be requested.

example: F purchases a ticket for the Regional Express from Aschaffenburg to Wiesbaden. The scheduled departure is at 5.16 p.m. and the scheduled arrival at 6.55 p.m. F learns on the platform that the Regional Express will only arrive 40 minutes late in Aschaffenburg and then probably also in Wiesbaden. F can now use the ICE from Aschaffenburg to Frankfurt am Main instead of the regional train, so that it reaches Wiesbaden at 6:58 p.m. If he has had additional costs as a result, he can demand that they be reimbursed.

  • If the scheduled arrival time falls between midnight and 5 a.m., the passenger can also transfer to a taxi if there is a delay of at least 60 minutes if cheaper public transport is no longer available to reach the destination. The reimbursement claim is limited to an amount of 80 euros.

example: After visiting the opera, F would like to take the Regional Express from Berlin Central Station to Werder (Havel) on Wednesday evening at 0.41 a.m. Scheduled arrival is at 1:18 a.m. After arriving at the station, F learns that the train is canceled due to a defect. The next train doesn't leave until 4.35 a.m. F is allowed to take a taxi immediately and is reimbursed for the taxi costs up to an amount of 80 euros if there is no longer a bus.

  • If the last scheduled train of the day is canceled, the passenger can also transfer to a taxi if he can no longer reach his destination by midnight without using the other means of transport. Here, too, the reimbursement claim is limited to an amount of 80 euros.

example: After visiting friends in Menden in the Sauerland, F wants to take the regional train back to Balve in the Sauerland on Sunday evening. When he arrived on the platform of the train station in Menden, he learned that the last scheduled train of the day at 6.45 p.m. was canceled due to a damaged chassis. There is no other way of reaching his destination by public transport by midnight. F can therefore take a taxi immediately and will be reimbursed for the costs up to an amount of 80 euros.


Liability for personal injury

In the event of a railway accident, if a passenger has been killed or injured, the railway undertakings must pay an advance payment that covers the immediate economic needs of the injured passenger or his relatives. If a passenger is killed, this advance payment amounts to at least 21,000 euros.


Rights of people with reduced mobility

The rights of disabled people and other people with reduced mobility, such as the elderly or young children, are strengthened. Railway companies and station operators are obliged to work with the stakeholders of the groups mentioned to draw up access regulations for transport. You must ensure that the train station, platforms, vehicles and other facilities are accessible to people with reduced mobility. Insofar as appropriate staff is available and the need for support has been announced in advance, the railway companies and station operators are obliged to provide free assistance with boarding and alighting as well as with the journey.


Information obligations of the railway undertakings

When selling tickets or during the journey, the railway companies must inform passengers in particular which is the shortest and cheapest train connection, what rights the passenger has, whether the train is delayed and which connections can be reached. In local transport, however, the information requirements are less extensive for reasons of practicality. For example, the RU must inform the passenger about the next stop, about delays, about safety and about services on the train. Information about connection connections, however, can be omitted. In addition, the passengers in local transport can be informed by a summary. The information itself can be posted or displayed as well as using an information and booking system.


Quality management, complaints offices and arbitration

Railway companies that operate long-distance passenger rail transport must set quality standards and systematically review them. These relate to information, tickets, punctuality, train cancellations, cleanliness, customer surveys, complaint handling and assistance for people with disabilities and people with reduced mobility. All railway undertakings must also put in place a complaint handling procedure. The railway companies are obliged to inform passengers to a large extent and in a conspicuous place using the contact details of the company's own complaints office. The complaints must be answered within one month or, if the passenger has been informed, within three months at the latest.

In addition, complaints offices have been set up with the railway supervisory authorities so that passengers have a point of contact if they have not been treated satisfactorily by a railway company. Finally, it is legally clarified that the passenger also has the option of calling an arbitration board. You can find the contact details for suitable arbitration bodies here.



The railways are not liable for delays that can be shown to have occurred outside the European Community.

The railway assumes no liability if the passenger was informed of the delay when purchasing the ticket or if the passenger actually arrived at the destination within 60 minutes or if it is the fault of the passenger himself.

If the traveler has a ticket that is only valid for local transport, he is not entitled to a claim for reimbursement of expenses for other means of transport (e.g. taxi) if the railway company was unable to avert the event or its consequences using all due care and this was obvious to the traveler or the traveler was informed about this in good time.


Further information