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Train travel: What are the new rules for compensation claims in Austria?

The Local Austria
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Train travel: What are the new rules for compensation claims in Austria?
Austria's ÖBB train with scenery views (© ÖBB/Philipp Horak)

A new EU regulation that came into force Wednesday claws back a few rights to compensation for delayed or cancelled trains in Europe, including Austria.

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Travellers on Austrian state railway ÖBB now have fewer legally guaranteed rights to compensation for cancellations or delays.

However, although the EU regulation tightens passenger rights so that train companies don’t legally have to provide as much compensation as before, ÖBB does say its opting to offer more than what the law technically requires.

At the moment, ÖBB has to pay you back 25 percent of the cost of your ticket if your train is delayed by more than an hour but less than two hours. If your train is delayed by more than two hours, it has to pay you back 50 percent of the cost.

This rule stays in place. But some exceptions are coming in as to when it applies.

READ ALSO: What are my rights if a train is delayed or cancelled in Austria?

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Is it the railway’s fault?

This is the big question in the new regulation determining whether passengers get compensation or not.

If a European railway, including ÖBB, can argue that the delay or cancellation is due to something they have no control over, then the passenger no longer has the right to compensation.

What are these events exactly?

A police operation that disrupts traffic would qualify as something that ÖBB has no control over. So too, would delays directly attributable to extreme weather, people on the tracks, a medical emergency that happened on a train, cable theft, or even sabotage or terrorism.

An ÖBB train in the Austrian city of Innsbruck. Image: Pixlr

An ÖBB train in the Austrian city of Innsbruck. Image: Pixlr

Strikes, however, don’t technically constitute something that ÖBB has no control over. So the railway still has to pay compensation if a strike delays or cancels your travel plans.

ÖBB has so far said that it would continue to pay compensation for delays or cancellations due to extreme weather - something the revised EU regulation no longer requires it to do.

ÖBB remains responsible to pay alternative buses for travellers who are delayed for more than 100 minutes, to bring them back to their origin station free of charge, or to provide them with food, drinks, and overnight accommodation.

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READ ALSO: Train travel in Austria: 6 ways you can save money

Shorter claims times

One thing that will change is the time that passengers have to claim compensation. Previously, European train operators had to process claims from people filed up to a year after the delay or cancellation originally took place.

This is now being reduced to three months. European railways like ÖBB may still decide to continue processing claims received later, although anything filed after three months in the future remains at their discretion rather than a legal requirement.

 

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