Every year in December a new train schedule becomes valid in Europe.
And of course, as every year, a lot of night trains are cut. This year in particular in Eastern Europe, which for a long time had had a very stable and dense night train network. The European policy of subsidising air travel is taking its toll. Particularly noteworthy: The loss of the EuroNight „Metropol“ which used to connect Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. In a time where Air Berlin and Niki go bankrupt and people complain about expensive flight tickets „Das Buchungssystem ist schuld: So erklärt Lufthansa die rasant steigenden Flugpreise.“
where in Vienna there are protests agains a new runway for the airport, and where the whole world complains about Trump leaving the Paris agreement: in this time Europe does not mind when its only ecological mode of transportation breaks down completely. Europe is saying a lot of nice words, but the actual politics is hardly better than Trump’s. The European laugh about Trump but care about the climate just as little as he does, in all of their daily decisions.
The German parliament supports a proposal by the government which reads as follows:
1. als Vertreter des Bundes gegenüber dem Vorstand der DB AG anzuregen, dass die bisherigen Kooperationen auch in den kommenden Jahren aufrechterhalten werden und eine regelmäßige Überprüfung zur Ausweitung der Streckenangebote gerade im grenzüberschreitenden Nacht- und Autoreisezugverkehr auch in kooperativer Zusammenarbeit mit anderen Bahnunternehmen erfolgt;
[Translation: to maintain existing cooperations in the next years and check whether the international night train network can be extended in cooperations]
2. sicherzustellen, dass den potentiellen Betreibern neuer Nachtzugstrecken weiterhin ein gesetzlich vorgeschriebener fairer und diskriminierungsfreier Zugang zur Schieneninfrastruktur ermöglicht wird;
[to ensure that potential operators of night trains have fair access to the railway network]
3. sich auf EU-Ebene für Rahmenbedingungen einzusetzen, die bestehende administrative, technische und wettbewerbliche Hemmnisse eines grenzüberschreitenden Schienenpersonenverkehrs abbauen, damit auch der Nachtzugverkehr profitiert;
[to encourage on EU level conditions which reduce administrative, technical and competitive problems of international railway travel, so that also the night trains profit]
Maintain existing cooperations and provide fair access to the railway network? The EuroNight „Metropol“ is cancelled because German network access fees are too high!
To reduce competitive problems? Airlines already don’t pay VAT, energy taxes and fuel taxes, whereas railway operators pay the full amount. But nevertheless the government feels responsible to keep airline ticket prices low if there is a bankrupt airline! Did the government give a fuck about Locomore going bankrupt?
Dear government: you should be happy if Niki and Air Berlin are bankrupt and airline tickets become more expensive: the only way you can possibly keep your climate promises!
And by the way: Lufthansa ticket prices increased by about 30% when Air Berlin stopped operating. Immediately, train bookings went up by 10%. Imagine airlines would start to pay 19% VAT, plus fuel taxes, plus emission certificates! Imagine at the same time, subsidies for non-profitable regional airports would be cut (11 Billion Euro in Germany!) and invested in the railway network, so that delays reduce to a Swiss or Japanese standard. Imagine railway operators would be freed from VAT, fuel taxes, emission certificates. Imagine there would be a fee for using streets, at the same price as the fee for using railway tracks. We could immediately move 30% of all traffic on to the railways, in the long run probably 50%!
But the reality is going to look different: the government is going to encourage electric cars (a homoeopathic improvement) and Google is going to provide us with self-driving cars – and once we have self-driving cars, we will shut down the railways because their last advantage in Germany is going to be gone!