Rail travel: Complaints
Defect ticket vending machine
Regarding commuter and regional trains, it is no longer possible to purchase a ticket directly on the train. To enter the train without a ticket leads to expensive penalty payments: 65 euros per person and lacking ticket if you pay cash. If you don't carry enough cash with you and therefore need to pay with a payment form, it gets even more expensive: 95 euros ("Erlagschein").
If the ticket vending machine at the rail station is defect, you are only allowed to enter a train without a ticket if there is no open personal counter ("ÖBB Personenkasse") and no other functioning ticket vending machine! Otherwise you will have to pay a penalty for riding a train without a ticket.
Cell phone tickets
If you purchase your ticket via your cell phone, you have to make sure that you receive the confirmation text message before you enter the train. Otherwise, if the conductor is very strict, it can happen that you have to pay a penalty for entering the train without a valid ticket.
Caution: Always check the ticket immediately after the purchase in order to avoid mistakes!
Compensation in the event of delays
There are very detailled regulations regarding compensation in case of delays, missed connections and cancellation. These regulations differ regarding long-distance and regional trains.
Long-distance: Compensation for individual tickets
If a long-distance train is delayed (IC, EC, Railjet, EN, WESTbahn), passengers who purchased individual tickets are entitled to compensation: After 60 minutes 25 percent, after 120 minutes 50 percent of the purchase price.
Regional: Compensation for season tickets
Regarding regional traffic, only holders of weekly, monthly or annual tickets are entitled to compensation in the event of delays. If you have an annual ticket, you only get compensation if the rail company didn't achieve the necessary punctuality rate of 95 percent for the relevant rail section in the relevant month. Depending on the rail company, trains with a delay up to three or five minutes are classified as punctual. Rail companies are obliged to publish their actual monthly punctuality rate on their website in order to enable passengers to evaluate their entitlement to compensation.
Compensation for owners of annual tickets
Passengers who purchase or renew their annual ticket have to explicitly agree to the submission of their data to the relevant rail company. Afterwards, they automatically get all payments of compensation they're entitled to with the validity end of their annual ticket. If any problems occur regarding those payments, passengers should immediately contact the rail company or transport association in charge.
Compensation for owners of weekly or monthly tickets
A minimum delay of 30 minutes entitles owners of weekly or monthly tickets of the ÖBB Personenverkehr AG to a compensation of 0.75 euros. However, this compensation will only be paid if there are at least six delays within the validity of the ticket and at least four euros of compensation come together. In order to assert their claim, passengers need a confirmation of the delay which can be obtained from the conductors or from the personal counter at the rail station immediately after the arrival of the train.
If this is impossible due to the lack of conductors or personal counters, the delay confirmation can also be obtained from the ÖBB customer service under the phone number 05 17 17 or online under http://fahrplan.oebb.at (until midnight of the following day).
Online booking from abroad
If you plan a trip with a point of departure in another than your home country, online booking possibilities are limited: You can only book such tickets from Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
Cancellation of tickets
If you purchased "SparSchiene" tickets (very cheap tickets you often book long before the departure) or "Mobile-SMS" tickets (cell phone tickets) and later decide to cancel your trip, you won't get a refund!
Summary and tips of ECC Austria:
- Carry loose change. The ÖBB ticket vending machines only give change of max. 9.90 euros.
- Check date on your ticket. Immediately check your ticket after the purchase in order to avoid mistakes.
- Agree to data submission. When you buy or renew an annual ticket, agree to the submission of your data to the rail company in charge in order to get the compensation you're entitled to.
- Cell phone ticket. You have to receive the confirmation text message before you enter the train.
- Conciliation body helps. If the rail company rejects your claim, you can turn to the conciliation body "Schienen-Control GmbH". If you have a problem with a foreign rail company, the European Consumer Centre helps.