Rail has to compensate more and more


VDelays and cancellations cost the Deutsche Bahn more and more money: Compensation payments to dissatisfied passengers have more than doubled over the past five years. Last year, the railway reimbursed 54.5 million euros, compared to 27 million euros in 2014. These figures, which emerge from the Federal Government's response to a small request from the FDP Group, relate primarily to long-distance traffic, but also include compensation for regional and suburban rail transport. According to the current regulation, which applies throughout Europe, a passenger is entitled to a refund of 25 percent of the fare after 60 minutes delay, to 50 percent after 120 minutes.

Kerstin Schwenn

The fact that Deutsche Bahn has to set a new record for compensation can partly be attributed to poor punctuality in long-distance traffic. In 2018, only 74.9 percent of ICE and IC trains arrived on time, which is less than six minutes late. In 2017, 78.5 percent of long-distance trains were on time and in 2016 78.9 percent – in 2015, however, only 74.4 percent. However, from the statistics quoted by Transport State Secretary Enak Ferlemann (CDU) in his reply, it can not be seen how many trains accumulated more than an hour or two of this.

More train cancellations

Punctuality is subject to many influences. The spectrum ranges, as the company lists, from wanton interventions in rail traffic, people in the track, suicides, storms and storms over disruptions of infrastructure and vehicles to construction sites in the network. "Experience has shown that about one-third of the disruptions go to transport companies with their trains, the infrastructure and external influences," the railway says.

The number of train cancellations, which the Group is conducting in separate statistics, increased slightly in 2018 from 1.1 to 1.3 percent, as Ferlemann further informs. In long-distance traffic fell according to railway information about 3500 trains completely. This also leads to compensation obligations – even if the train rather turns the tables: "The vast majority of passengers could rest assured that their train leaves," she writes on the website. "The so-called compliance rate of all daily 24,000 long-distance trains and commuter trains operated by Deutsche Bahn has remained stable over the past few years, more than 99 percent in the annual average."

One has a "natural interest" in a high quota, otherwise purchaser charges would be reduced in local traffic or compensation in the long-haul reduced the amount of fares. In 2018, revenues from ticket sales amounted to 7.8 billion euros. They have risen regularly since 2014, when € 6.8 billion was redeemed.

"Sudden vehicle defects"

Meanwhile, in the European Union, Parliament is pushing for more compensation for passengers. An internal paper by the EU Council of Ministers, on the other hand, states that it considers the current rules to be sufficient – and intends to use more lenience against companies in the event of delays and failures due to "force majeure" or "third parties". The share of third parties is estimated at 14.1 percent for 2018, after 21.4 percent (2017) and 19.1 percent (2016).

In contrast, the proportion of disruptions caused by "force majeure" increased to 13.5 percent after 11.4 percent (2017) and 9.4 percent (2016). In addition to extreme weather, personal accidents and strikes, rail also counts "higher vehicle speed".

FDP MP Roman Müller-Böhm warned against undermining consumer rights in "force majeure". It has been proven that the share of train cancellations due to force majeure has increased. It therefore seems to be advantageous for Deutsche Bahn in particular to limit this as a reason for compensation in order to protect the balance sheet, he told F.A.Z.

Ferlemann calls for online form

Ferlemann does not insist in his letter on sharper compensation obligations, but insists on relief. "From the perspective of the Federal Government, it is necessary to improve the practical enforcement of passenger rights. Passengers should in future have easier to apply for compensation. "The government has asked the railway to" at least for online tickets to introduce an online procedure. " Currently, a paper form must be completed.

The railway is comforting government and customers. You can probably expect no earlier than the end of next year with simplifications. There are still a number of complicated technical processes and data protection issues to clarify, they say.

A railway spokesman said on request: "We are currently building a completely new IT landscape for Deutsche Bahn's distribution systems. For customers, this results in many improvements, from the simpler ticket purchase to even more accurate driving time and change forecasts. "The full implementation of the new IT will take even longer because of the complexity of synchronizing distribution systems. "When it comes to digitizing passenger rights cases, however, we want to achieve a result for our customers faster."

. (dayToTranslate) Enak Ferlemann (t) German Railways (t) Federal Government (t) FDP (t) CDU (t) F.A.Z. (t) Drop-out


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