What happens if I miss my connection?

With any journey, there is a risk that you could be disrupted by delays, cancellations or just bad luck. We advise thinking carefully about the potential risk and taking steps before starting your trip.


Preparing for your trip

Give yourself enough time

If your journey involves a change of trains, there is always a risk that a delay to one part of your journey will cause you to miss a connecting train, particularly if the connection time is tight. Your itinerary should include enough time to change trains, which you should review carefully and consider adding more time if a delay to one part of your journey will seriously impact subsequent parts of your trip.

It's possible manually adjust the amount of time between trains by adding a via station to your search. For more information see our guide Understanding interchanges and transfers.
Get travel insurance!
For any trip, you should purchase appropriate travel insurance. Although international train travellers are offered some protection by the rail operator's themselves (see below), the extent of the protection and the rail operator's liability is limited.
For example, there are circumstances under which the rail operator is not held responsible for delays, such as disruption caused by a force majeure, aka an "act of God", such as a flood. It's also very unlikely that you will be reimbursed for what's called "consequential loss" such as missed train/flight or expenses that fall outside the jurisdiction of the rail operator, even if a delay on their train is the cause.
As soon as you book train tickets, you should immediately purchase appropriate travel insurance, which will offer the most reliable protection for travel disruption.

Missed Connections

In Europe, international travel is generally protected by what's called "CIV rules" which offers some protection for cross-border travel. The acronym "CIV" is printed on eligible tickets to show that they are covered under the terms of the contract. The document contains lots of information for rail travellers, including:

  • Assistance in case of cancellation, delays and missed connections. It means you'll usually be permitted to travel on the next available train if an earlier train is delayed.
  • Compensation that may be due in case of delays, such as a partial refund of the cost of the affected ticket.

A full explanation of what CIV is and how it offers protection for passengers can be found in our article: Understanding CIV.

If you are delayed and you have tickets for onward travel on trains which run as normal, you might be permitted to travel on a later train but refunds and exchanges are only permitted as per fare conditions. The CIV rules do not entitle you to a full refund of your order if one part of your trip is cancelled/delayed. You should obtain travel insurance to protect your trip against this risk.

If you experience a delay

In the case of missed a connection due to delays to earlier services, you should be permitted to travel on the next available train.

European rail operators are aware of the impact that delays on the network can cause and will usually try to accommodate delayed passengers on later services. However, you are required to obtain evidence of the delay/disruption:

Retain all tickets for the duration of your journey.
You may be asked to show these on subsequent trains as evidence of the delay. And you should keep them until you return home too, since your original tickets may be required for a claim upon your return.
If possible, ask the ticket inspector to validate your ticket as evidence of the delays.
Tickets are generally stamped or initialed with the length of delay written on. You should present this at the ticket office at the next station, in conjunction with the tickets for your missed connection. The staff at the station will advise you about what to do next.
Retain all receipts for unavoidable expenses.
Keep all receipts until you return home, as you may need them to claim compensation upon your return. Note that additional expenses are not usually covered by the rail operator, and should be pursued via your travel insurance.

If you journey contains lots of connecting trains and you are delayed early on in your trip, you might not be permitted to travel with your existing tickets on later trains for the entire journey. In these cases you may need to pay for new tickets, or even to seek accommodation if you miss the last train to your destination. In these cases, you should be able to claim compensation for the delayed train from the rail operator, but any additional costs for new tickets etc should be claimed via your travel insurer.

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