A third of long-distance trains delayed in 2023, DB figures reveal

A third of long-distance trains delayed in 2023, DB figures reveal

Has the German punctuality myth expired yet? Another year of poor performance saw just 64 percent of long-distance trains in Germany arrive on time, and things are only expected to get worse in 2024.

Long-distance trains more regularly delayed than regional services

According to annual figures published by Deutsche Bahn, just 64 percent of long-distance trains run by the company reached their destination on time in 2023, meaning that they were on time or less than six minutes late to arrive. 

The figures for 2023 are similar to those for 2022 when every third passenger was delayed. But a 10 percent increase in the number of delayed trains between 2021 and 2022 means that Deutsche Bahn services are still considerably less punctual than just a few years ago. As recently as 2017, 86 percent of passengers were arriving at their destination with a delay of 15 minutes or less.

Regional trains didn’t fare as badly in the report, with 91 percent arriving at their destination on time in 2023.

German train delays are expected to get worse in 2024

Degraded track across Germany’s rail network has been cited as one of the main reasons for worsening delays. According to Deutsche Bahn, 75 percent of all long-distance trains had to slow down while passing rail repair works during the year. This is on top of the extra time that temporary speed restrictions imposed over stretches of the faulty track add to journeys.

Back in March, the German government projected that Deutsche Bahn would need 45 billion euros to cover construction costs between now and 2027, costs they said would be covered “as far as financially feasible” by the core budget for transportation and an additional “climate transformation fund” (KTF).

However, after Germany’s constitutional court deemed the coalition’s first 2024 budget illegal for reassigning money earmarked for coronavirus prevention policies to the KTF, a crisis sent Scholz and co. back to the drawing board and they returned with a new spending plan which slashed 12,5 billion in funding promised to Deutsche Bahn for track renovations

To fill the funding gap, the government announced that the company is to increase its equity to 12,5 billion and sell off Schenker, a logistics and freight transport subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn. But renovation plans for many track sections are at risk or may take longer than expected.

How to get a refund if your Deutsche Bahn train is delayed

Deutsche Bahn trains are officially declared “late” if they reach a destination more than six minutes later than planned. However, your train has to be later than this for you to have the right to a refund, and how much money you get back will depend on the severity of your delay.

If you are 60 minutes late or more you can get 25 percent of your original ticket cost reimbursed, and if you are 120 minutes late or more you are entitled to a 50 percent reimbursement. 

In August 2023, Deutsche Bahn also tightened its rules about when passengers can apply their right to a refund. According to the new rules, passengers who use regional trains to travel to another station to catch an ICE train will no longer be able to claim a refund if the regional train is delayed and causes them to miss the ICE.

Another new rule regards extreme weather and events beyond the rail operators' control. If Deutsche Bahn trains are delayed due to extreme weather or unauthorised people crossing the train tracks, the company is no longer required to refund the cost of passengers’ delayed journeys.

But, if your train was still delayed and your delay meets these criteria, you can apply for this reimbursement online here.

Thumb image credit: Lutsenko_Oleksandr /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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