Frequently Asked Questions

What function does apf have in railway traffic?

The function of apf is to assist passengers of railway companies headquarter in Austria and customers of the national carrier consortia who use the railway in asserting their rights without going to court. apf sees itself as an independent broker between the railway companies and carrier consortia and their customers.

What is an arbitration procedure?

Arbitration is a modern approach to conflict resolution that seeks to settle disputes without using the public court system. When there is a dispute that a passenger and a railway company cannot resolve themselves, the apf reviews the case and proposes an individual solution that will be acceptable to both sides.

Who can turn to apf?

Passengers purchasing their ticket from a railway company or carrier consortium headquartered in Austria or from a company operating in Austria.

Do I have to pay anything for an arbitration procedure?

The arbitration procedure is free for the complainant. Should costs be incurred during the procedure caused by the complainant himself/herself such as postage and stationery costs, any eventual attorneys’ fees, etc., then they must be borne by the complainant.

When is it appropriate to contact apf?

apf does not replace complaints management at the particular railway company or carrier consortium. Before apf can deal with your case you must (with the exception of § 78a, par 2 Railway Act) attempt to reach agreement with the railway company or carrier consortium concerned. If no satisfactory results were obtained for you then we are happy to take on your case.

For what complaints does apf not have jurisdiction?

The apf does not process any complaints

  • that do not relate to carriage of passengers, baggage or freight.
  • regulated by § 78a, par 1 Railway Act which were not first submitted to the company in question for resolution of the problem.
  • if the ticket was not purchased from a company headquarter in Austria.
  • about carriage conditions of companies not headquarter in Austria.
  • submitted to apf later than two years after the date they were submitted to the company.
  • for claims, purported violations or purported illegal regulations pending in a court or administrative court or that have been definitively decided or arbitrated.
  • which have already been dealt with in an arbitration procedure.
  • for which another arbitration board for alternative dispute resolution has jurisdiction.
  • relating to disputes which are frivolous or vexatious.
  • whose processing could seriously impair apf’s efficient operation, such as because extensive taking of evidence would be required or because they concern unusually complex legal issues.

For this reason, complaints about construction work, noise pollution, general (transport) policy affairs or about busses and trams (even if they belong to the particular railway company) cannot be processed. Exception: buses serving as off-rail substitute travel options.

What does apf need in order to take action?
  1. Please provide us with all information and documentation in writing. Use the complaint form from the website www.apf.gv.at for this purpose. If you do not have the possibility of attaching all documentation electronically then you can send them by post or fax. We need the following things from you: name, address, telephone number, where applicable fax number, where applicable email address.
  2. A complete written exposition of the facts in the case. Please describe what, exactly, happened.
  3. The written complaint which you already sent to the railway company or the carrier consortium.
  4. All documents which may be of assistance in clarifying your complaint (such as train tickets, student, apprentice or vocational school identification, free-travel beneficiary identification, discount card, penalty payment or extra fare charge, collection notice, taxi or hotel bills, etc.).
  5. The complete correspondence that has passed between you and the Company.
  6. Your current claim against the company. What are we supposed to achieve for you?
  7. Consent under § 8 of the 2000 Data Privacy Act (DSG 2000). With that you consent to allowing the company and the authorities to release all data required for deciding the case to apf. We will use your data exclusively for the arbitration procedure and we will abide strictly by the provisions of DSG 2000. None of your personally identifiable information will be passed on to any third parties.
  8. With submission of the complaint, the complainants acknowledge the apf procedure guidelines and confirm that all information given is truthful. Upon request, apf will send the procedure guidelines by email, fax or post.
What happens in an arbitration procedure?

As soon as it receives your complaint, the apf will check to see if the complaint falls within its authority and fulfils the criteria for an arbitration procedure. If for any reason an arbitration procedure is not possible, you will be informed.

If an arbitration procedure is opened, the apf will request the railway company in question to submit its own written statement of the Facts.

If it seems appropriate, the apf may invite one or all of the parties concerned to a meeting in their business premises. You can, however, decline to take part in such a meeting if you prefer.

Should no arbitration procedure be possible, we will as a matter of course notify you of the reasons for this rejection and be happy to inform you where you should turn instead.

For the precise steps in the procedure please see our procedure guidelines.

How long does the arbitration procedure last?

The amount of time processing of a case takes depends, on the one hand, on the reaction speed of the company in question and, on the other hand, on its individual complexity. apf is in any case interested in producing a solution as quickly as possible in the framework of the arbitration procedure. In many cases this is possible in only two to three weeks, on an annual average the goal is a maximum of six weeks. In complex complaint cases resolution is aimed at within six months.

What do I have to do for the arbitration procedure?

In order to have your complaint processed, apf needs all necessary information from you in written form. You will find a listing of all documents under the item: What does apf need from me in order to take action?

In the course of the arbitration procedure, both you and the company are obliged to cooperate in the procedure and to provide apf with all information required to assess the factual circumstances. False and/or incomplete information may lead to termination of the arbitration procedure.

Having other institutions and organisations deal with the case during the ongoing procedure should be avoided, except in justified cases.

Can I have someone represent me?

Yes, at any stage of the procedure you can, at your own expense, authorise a lawyer or other trusted person to represent you.

On demand, proof of the right to represent you (by means of a proxy statement) must be provided.

What is the result of an arbitration procedure?

apf works out a solution which in most cases leads to resolution and thus termination of the dispute. The solution recommended by apf may be different from the results of judicial proceedings. Acceptance of the solution is not mandatory.

If the arbitration procedure does not lead to any agreement, it is then terminated.

Is the arbitration result binding?

If both parties agree to the apf's proposed solution, they effectively accept it as an out-of-court settlement. If one of the parties does not agree, the solution is not considered binding. The parties can then assert their claims through the court system. In such cases, the solution proposed by the apf is considered merely a recommendation.

Schienen-Control Kommission may, in case of complaints by passengers concerning a lack of or inadequate fare compensation for train delays or cancellations and where no agreement is reached with the railway company, declare the solution proposed by apf for binding and promise the passenger compensation.

What if the railway company is trying to collect money from me?

If the railway company (or a collection agency) is already trying to collect money from you in connection with your complaint, the apf will request the railway company to suspend any further charges until the case is resolved and to inform its collection agency (if any) of the arbitration procedure. We also advise you to inform the collection agency yourself that the procedure has been opened, just to ensure that collection activities will indeed be suspended.

What happens to ongoing deadlines?

Submission of the complaint and the duration of the arbitration procedure interrupt the running of the statute of limitations (deadlines only begin to run again after the conclusion of the procedure). That means that if no consensus is reached in the arbitration procedure you may assert your claims in the courts with jurisdiction over them.

What happens to the data?

apf uses your data exclusively to process the complaint and to conduct the arbitration procedure. Data are only used, without reference to individuals, for drawing up statistics and annual reports such as the annual report on the tasks of apf to be produced for the Passenger Rights Agency under § 8, par 2 of the Federal Act. apf only uses data for other purposes if it is entitled to in a specific instance to use data within the meaning of § 8 of DSG 2000.

How can I contact apf?

Preferably by using our complaint form on the Website.

You will receive a confirmation by email that we have received your complaint. Should you not receive any further communication from us within two weeks, we request that you contact us again. Where deadlines must be met, please contact us even sooner, if needed.

Should electronic transmission not be possible for you, you may also send us your complaint by post or fax.

By Post:
Agency for Passenger Rights
Railway department
Linke Wienzeile 4/1/6
1060 Wien

Fax:
+43 1 5050707 180

May I call the apf by telephone?

We are reachable during office hours at the telephone number +43 1 5050707 710. We can give you certain information by telephone and advise you in matters of complaint. However, a complaint must always be submitted to us in writing since an arbitration procedure can only be initiated in that way.