OBB Vienna Paris train cancellation experience! - eNidhi India Travel Blog

OBB Vienna Paris train cancellation experience!


  • Had booked a 90 Euro overnight sleeper train ticket from Vienna to Paris
  • But on the day of travel, due to strikes in Paris, train gets cancelled
  • Had to spend next day fully in reaching Paris via a 2 connection alternate option provided by OBB
  • Had to buy a ticket for the last leg from a different train operator, but got it reimbursed
  • Missed experiencing sleeper trains in Europe, lost a day but was a good experience

Detailed post

I had booked a train from Austria’s capital Vienna to Paris. This booking was done on platform Omio for about 90 Euros. The price was 45 Euros earlier but because I delayed booking by a few weeks I had to pay 2x. Last minute ticket on this route was selling for 138 Euros.

What I had booked was an OBB Nightjet. OBB is Austria’s largest operator. OBB Nightjet is the overnight sleeper train. The train was to start from Vienna (Wien) at around 7.49 PM and reach Paris Est the next morning around 9.30 AM. I was looking forward to the sleeper train experience in Europe and comparing it to my Indian Railway experience. The distance is almost 1200-1300 kms and 13-14 hours seems fair time for a train (though there are faster trains which cover this much distance in half the time or less).

On the day of travel I checked out my hostel in Vienna, came to Vienna central station and was waiting for my train’s platform number to be displayed on the large screens. Because they have so many screens, only trains departing in the next 30-45 minutes were being shown, which meant I would know about my train’s platform only by 7 or 7.10 PM or so (7.49 departure time).

OBB had a lounge on the first floor- I went there to check if I am eligible for staying there. I was told I can stay there but a 10 Euro fee applies. Decided not to spend and came down.

I saw that Omio was highlighting that I needed a print out of my ticket. I decided to go to OBB customer service and ask for a print out.

I went to customer service, took a token and waited for my turn.

Got my number in about 15-20 minutes. As I went to the counter, showed my ticket and asked for a print out, I was in for a shock.

I was told my train has been canceled. Apparently OBB had sent an email that afternoon which I didn't notice. Apparently French workers have declared a strike, thus it was not possible for OBB to operate a train into France.

Vienna is a bit too far from Paris for overnight train. Last minute flights were costing 400-500 Euros. The customer care staff said he will work out couple of options for me.

There were no direct trains to Paris the same day or next day. My only option was to take a 2 stop day journey, first change in Nuremberg and second change in Stuttgart, Germany.

OBB operates trains till Stuttgart, thus the customer care person was able to issue a ticket for me till Stuttgart. I had two options, one, same night departure (11.45 PM) that would reach Paris the next day some 2 PM and another option was the next day 6.45 AM departure that would reach Paris at 6 PM. Second option entitled me for a free hotel stay.

It was about 7 PM now. I had to decide in a few minutes. Anyway I was destined to lose most of the next day in travel. Instead of waiting 6 more hours for the midnight sitting train, I decided to take their hotel stay and take the next day morning train. This would be my first hotel stay in this Europe trip as all other stays were in a hostel.

I got two train tickets, one till Nuremberg and one more from Nuremberg to Stuttgart, and a few letters explaining my original ticket and train cancellation. I was given a hotel voucher.

I walked into Motel One hotel opposite Vienna central, showed my hotel voucher and I was given room 601, with a clear view of Vienna Central. It was already 7.30 PM, I took shower and went to sleep, after updating few close people about my change in plan.

Next day I had good breakfast at hotel. Breakfast opens at 6 AM and my train was at 6.40 AM, so I had about 15-20 minutes to eat as much as I can and rush to Wien central for the first train. 

First train was fine, was almost like our Shatabdi. Bought some soup and bread from Pantry car.

Reached Nuremberg on time. I had just 15 minute connection time at Nuremberg. Train arrived on time, I rushed to display boards to find out platform for my next train- couldn’t find it. Went to customer care counter, showed my ticket and asked for platform number- they guided me to right platform, as I walked fast, got on to platform, my compartment was right in front of me. So I coil get into my second train with about 6 minutes to spare.

Second train dropped me off at Stuttgart on time. I had one hour here. I rushed to customer care to ask if I can get a seat on 2.52 PM train to Paris Est. But customer care counters were empty- not a single person was there. I went to another counter where tickets were sold, I was told I should go somewhere else to ticket to Paris.

I tried vending machines in the station, but they were not recognizing Paris as a destination.

Now I am only left with an option to book online. Other options were to spend some time in Stuttgart, take an overnight bus or next day train to Paris.

I took help from a relative who booked a ticket for me on the 2.52 PM train to Paris. He had to pay 144 Euro for a ticket to Paris.

I saw many people standing in the train and explaining something to ticket inspector- probably they were also going to Paris without a seat. My ticket was never inspected on Stuttgart-Paris Est leg.

This train was super fast. Reached Paris by 6.08 PM, just about 3 hours to cover 600 kms or average 200 kmph speed. It had just 2-3 stops enroute. However the compartment was crowded so I didn't have much luxury to move around, just sat still in my seat till the destination.

Once back in India I filed for a refund claim on OBB website. (Website didn't have an option for refund, I filed for compensation and customer care reverted confirming they will refund). Asked them to pay my relative directly. 

I got refund in 4 working days flat.

Throughout the entire process, Omio, the platform where I had booked original ticket, was clueless about the cancellation and didn't offer any assistance in rebooking or reimbursement. We will be on our own.

Overall I am happy how things went. Yes, losing a day is bad, but it was not a fault of train operator OBB. OBB staff did what best they could to help me reach my destination. I am glad I travelled that day, because next day again workers in France went on strike. If I had planned to stay at Stuttgart and travel next day, there was a risk that I might not have reached Paris on time and that could mean me missing my return flight back to India. I regret missing experiencing sleeper trains in Europe- may be next time.

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