In order to promote green European mobility, Europe must grow together even more by rail. In European rail transport, locomotives, personnel and electricity networks have often to be changed by now. This not only costs time, but also makes rail transport overall less attractive. That is why the different national rail networks must be harmonised throughout Europe. A common rail network needs common standards. Europe can only shift more passenger and freight traffic to the railways if the small-scale state policy stops. This is good for the climate and reduces pollution from noise and pollutants. To achieve this, we need investment in transnational freight and passenger transport. That is why we are also advocating the resumption of European night trains between all major cities.
We want mobility in Europe that protects the environment and health; a mobility that is climate-neutral, cost-effective and accessible to all. This includes, above all, better train services.
Europe needs a paradigm shift in investment: Instead of investing billions in new construction, the crumbling public infrastructure urgently needs to be rehabilitated. We also want the transport sector to make its contribution to climate protection. To this end, we call for the introduction of a CO2 price on fossil fuels such as gasoline and natural gas, so that clean engines become relatively cheaper.
The EU’s 4th railway package lacks the right vision for a sound, forward-looking railway policy in the European Union. It relies unilaterally on liberalization and competition from low-cost operators. For rail customers in the European Union, these proposals bring hardly any improvements.
The tendering rules for railway projects leave too many loopholes. Some Member States are still foreclosing their markets, while letting their companies compete in other countries. At home, contracts are awarded directly to them without tendering, and other companies are excluded. Direct awards must continue to be possible – but only for those companies that do not take part in the competition themselves.
The new rules take far too little account of environmental or social standards. The transfer of personnel in the event of a change of operator is not binding. There is a threat of competition not for the most customer-friendly offer, but for the lowest wage costs.
We welcome the proposal of the “Luna Liner” and will work to ensure that – like ÖBB – other rail operators run night trains in Europe-wide traffic.
In order to promote green European mobility, we want Europe to grow together by rail. Instead of primarily financing major projects worth billions with little European benefit, European funding must be used specifically for existing and for missing sections. The European railway network is still a patchwork with many gaps at national borders. We want to change that. The European Gap Closing Programme, launched in 2016 for the first time, is a green success that creates significant improvements. But it is already clear that demand is overstretching the programme. That is why we are calling for a doubling of resources. This will enable us to improve cross-border rail transport with little effort. It is precisely the people who depend on it every day who benefit from it.
In European rail traffic, we advocate obligatory through tickets for the entire travel chain from A to B, even if the journey involves several providers – as is often the case with cross-border journeys. This is the only way to ensure that passenger rights are fully respected and that, for example, free onward transport is guaranteed in the event of a loss of connection.
We are opposed to the introduction of an exception clause for “force majeure”. This would lead to unilateral legal uncertainty to the detriment of rail customers. The flight sector should be a warning to us at this point, where the negative effects of such legal uncertainty can be observed.
International aviation must finally be fully included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in order to contribute to the protection of the atmosphere. We want the EU to work at international level towards clear climate targets for aviation and against loss-making regional airports.
International flights are still not subject to VAT and kerosene is not taxed. We want to change that. Since taxes are not a community policy in the EU, we will be working with the governments of the EU Member States to achieve a regulation to that effect.
If the competitive advantages of flying are eliminated and rail travel becomes more attractive by ensuring that trains run punctually and connections are guaranteed (“Deutschlandtakt” interval timetable for Germany), rail can play off its advantages over air travel. Since the rail link between Hanover and Berlin was upgraded, there are no longer any direct flights on this route. This must be continued.