In order to promote green European mobility, Europe must grow together even more by rail. To this end, we need investment in transnational freight and passenger transport. That is why we are also advocating the resumption of European night trains between all capitals. ÖBB are already on the right track. However, it often fails because of the inconsistent standards in rail transport. In European rail transport, locomotives, personnel and electricity networks often have to be changed. This not only costs time, but also makes rail traffic less attractive overall. That is why the different national rail networks must be harmonised throughout Europe. Only if national egotisms cease can Europe shift more passenger and freight traffic to the railways. This is good for the climate and reduces pollution from noise and pollutants.
In Europe, we want mobility that is climate-neutral, cost-effective, usable by all, and protects the environment and health. This means, above all, better and more attractive train services in financial terms.
Europe needs a paradigm shift in investment: Instead of investing billions in the construction of new roads and motorway networks, 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. In addition, the EU must advocate an international kerosene levy and set a good example by agreeing to introduce a kerosene tax for flights within the EU and a VAT obligation on international flights. In contrast to environmentally friendly rail transport whose customers have to pay VAT, climate-damaging aviation is exempt from VAT on international connections. A further step would also be a distance-dependent truck and car toll – that would be a step towards cost truth: trucks in Europe cause costs of 143 billion euros annually, only 30 percent are covered by taxes and tolls. The costs for our climate and our health are not even included.
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 liberalisation 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, but their companies are competing 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, such as Stuttgart 21, with little European benefit, European subsidies must be used specifically for existing and for missing sections. The European railway network is still a patchwork with numerous gaps at national borders. We want to change that. The European Gap Closing Programme, launched for the first time in 2016, 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 – as is often the case with cross-border journeys – involves several providers. 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 EU emissions trading in order to contribute to the protection of the atmosphere. We want the EU to work towards clear climate targets for aviation and against loss-making regional airports at international level. A warning should be given to us in Spain, where, for political reasons, regional airports have been built en masse, which are de facto hardly used and are completely contrary to the objective of the Paris climate agreement.
International flights are still not subject to VAT and kerosene is not taxed. This is completely unacceptable. The EU should set a positive example. However, taxes are a matter for the member states. The pressure on Transport Minister Norbert Hofer must therefore come primarily from the national level. Under EU law, it has been possible to tax kerosene nationally since 2005. As Greens, we will work to ensure that all EU member states introduce this tax so that distortions of competition can be avoided.
If the competitive advantages of flying are eliminated and rail travel becomes more attractive, with trains running on time and connections guaranteed, rail can play off its advantages over air travel. The success of ÖBB night trains shows that there is a demand for alternatives to air travel. This must be continued.