Compensation for a train delay of 30 minutes or more? – Business

In terms of delays, 2022 was a fatal year for Deutsche Bahn. On the one hand for the reputation, on the other hand financially, the compensation incurred will have a major impact on the balance sheet of the state-owned company. If a train arrives 60 minutes later than planned, passengers have been entitled to a 25 percent refund of the fare, and half for more than 120 minutes.

In order to increase the pressure for more punctuality and to make rail customers more lenient, the Federal Consumer Association (vzbv) has now proposed lowering the time threshold for compensation – and is receiving support from the federal government responsible for rail.

“From the point of view of vzbv, compensation should be introduced for train delays of 30 minutes or more in the form of a 10-euro travel voucher,” emphasizes the association. The existing leeway that the EU member states have should be exploited. “Bottlenecks in the rail infrastructure will continue to demand a lot of patience from passengers in the coming years,” said vzbv boss Ramona Pop (Greens). It is in the interest of the “mobility turnaround” to ensure appropriate financial compensation in the event of disruptions, also in order not to overtax the patience of the passengers.

In the house of the responsible Federal Consumer Protection Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) one is open to the idea. “Cash vouchers, even in the case of delays of less than an hour, can be a strong signal for the customer friendliness of the railways,” said a ministry spokeswoman at the request of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The high unpunctuality of the train makes many passengers to create. “Especially for a consumer-friendly and sustainable turnaround in mobility, reliable train service is essential. This requires strong passenger rights in the event of delays and cancellations.”

SPD faction leader Rolf Mützenich also wants to deal with the idea. “I believe that rail customers have a great interest in being compensated for what they are currently experiencing,” he said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the SPD parliamentary group, in which Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) also took part. But then it would also have to be clarified whether this would involve further financial demands on the federal government, emphasized the SPD parliamentary group leader.

Within the traffic light, however, the FDP in particular is skeptical. “Additional compensation regulations can lead to increases in ticket prices without improving punctuality,” said the railway expert of the FDP parliamentary group, Valentin Abel Süddeutsche Zeitung. “In order to increase the punctuality of the train, the general renovation of the rail network is needed, which the federal government is already working on.”

The railway fears a disadvantage compared to air traffic

The railway did not officially comment on the advance on Thursday. However, skepticism was also evident in company circles. A tightening of passenger rights will not play a role in punctuality, it said. The system suffers from a vulnerable infrastructure that needs to be rehabilitated. Flat-rate compensation from 30 minutes would also put the train at a clear disadvantage compared to the plane, for which reimbursements would only be due for an hour or more. Deutsche Bahn paid customers around 38 million euros in compensation in 2021. The figures for the past year will not be published until March.

The punctuality rate in long-distance transport was only 65.2 percent in 2022 and thus ten percentage points below the previous year’s level, as the group recently announced. The reasons given by Deutsche Bahn are the outdated infrastructure, many construction sites and a rapidly growing volume of traffic, as well as many staff shortages due to Corona. The Group goal for this year is a punctuality value in long-distance transport of more than 70 percent.

A train is included in the statistics as late if it arrives more than six minutes late. In regional traffic, 91.8 percent of all stations and stops were reached on time. Since significantly more trains are on the move here, journeys with delays are not so important. The lowest values ​​were recorded in the summer, during the three-month 9-euro ticket with far more passengers, and then the situation improved.

Important modernizations on heavily frequented rail routes can lead to delays and passenger annoyance for even longer. Some improvement should create new and more trains. In the current year, three new ICEs are to be delivered per month. Above all, almost 140 ICE4 trains and 73 pieces of the ICE 3 neo model should improve the situation – and thus also noticeably reduce the number of compensation claims.

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