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French Communist Party (UK)

1) Since air travel is the most climate harming form of transport, what do you propose in order to make more people use trains instead of planes for trips up to 1000 km in the EU and which role should night trains play in this concern?

The fact that more people use the train rather than the plane is one of our main objectives in terms of transport policy at both European and French level. A kilometre travelled by plane emits 40 times more CO2 than a kilometre travelled by train.

It is necessary to act on several levers to strongly encourage the use of the train, and the substitution by the train of many journeys made today by plane:

– To change the VAT of both modes: the train must benefit from a VAT at 0%, and the plane must no longer benefit from reduced VAT rates.

– Initiate a much more ambitious plan to finance rail infrastructure at European level than at present.

– Prohibit air links between cities linked by a rail link taking less than 3h30 of travel.

– Increase other tax levers: remove the tax exemption on kerosene, increase the civil aviation tax.

Night trains naturally have a very important role to play in replacing short-haul flights and they must be strongly supported.

2) What will you do in order to level the playing field between the different modes of long-distance travel or would you even give stronger support to the more climate friendly modes of transport – and how?

As stated in our answer to question 1, it is necessary to strongly encourage the use of night trains, which are 40 times less polluting than air travel. Investment support for rail, a ban on short-haul flights and the use of all available tax levers are necessary.

It is absolutely essential to increase very strongly the modal share of the train, and to stop the mad rush to increase the number of flights in Europe (more than 1 billion per year, with very high growth rates). This is essential to face the major challenges in terms of global warming and noise pollution for local residents.

3) How do you judge the success of the hitherto existing EU-policy of liberalization of the rail market as the way to achieve good national and cross-border train connections? Do you support this policy or would do you plan to introduce an alternative?

The EU’s policy of liberalising the rail market has had catastrophic impacts in many countries. It must be abandoned as soon as possible.

4) There are ideas for a Europe wide interconnected day and night train cross-border network (e.g. the “LunaLiner”) as an alternative to short and mid distance flights. What do you think about these plans, and if you support them what would you do in order to implement this?

The proposals of the collective “Oui au train de nuit” (« Yes to the night train », french branch of « Back-on-Track ») are particularly relevant, and we fully support them. The night train is a particularly efficient alternative to the plane for journeys of 750 to 1,500 kilometres or even 2,000 kilometres. It is essential to set up a European night train network. The European Union must make this one of its priorities as part of a plan to relaunch rail investment to be undertaken as soon as possible.

5) The European Court of Auditors calls the European high-speed rail network an “ineffective patchwork” that does not lead to good connections on the EU level (see report No 19 from the European Court of Auditors). What do you plan in order to improve this situation?

It is necessary to invest very substantially to better connect European high-speed rail networks. This must be a priority for the rail investment plan that we intend to implement at European level, such as the revival of night trains.

6) Recently EU rail passenger rights were under debate. What is your position concerning the future of passenger rights in rail and other modes of public transport? This particularly concerns cross-border services and a journey chain involving two or more operators? Should operators be able to refuse compensation if a service is cancelled or severely delayed because of “exceptional circumstances” and, if so, how should “exceptional circumstances” be defined?

The rights of passengers and the associations supporting and gathering them must be guaranteed. Operators should not have the right to refuse compensation on the grounds of “exceptional circumstances”.

7) What is your position on a kerosene tax, either EU‐wide or between EU member states? And if you support it: What will you do in order to get it implemented?

7- We are totally in favour of a European tax on kerosene, a measure that we have been defending for a long time. We will propose that this be one of the first measures taken by the European Parliament to combat climate change.

7.1) Would you support a general ban on short distance flight in the EU? If yes: Which should be the minimum distance to allow flights? If no: Which other measures to limit short distance flights do you plan to implement?

We propose a ban on short-haul flights within the EU. All flights between cities with rail links that take less than 3.5 hours must be banned.

7.2) Since the new international agreement CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) and the EU-ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) are not sufficient to tackle aviation emissions, what other measures do you envisage in order to regulate aviation (e.g. a tax on kerosene, tickets, VAT; a frequent flyer levy; a moratorium on airport infrastructure expansion; a ban of certain flights, e.g. short haul flights, …)?

We propose:

– To change the VAT on air travel and trains: the train (such as public transport and cycling) must benefit from a VAT rate of 0%, and the aircraft must no longer benefit from reduced VAT rates.

– To initiate a much more ambitious plan for financing rail infrastructure at European level than at present.

– To prohibit air links between cities linked by a rail link taking less than 3h30 of travel.

– Increase other tax levers: remove the tax exemption on kerosene, increase the civil aviation tax (with a very significant increase on private jet and water class flights).

– A moratorium on the development of airport infrastructure. The creation of the new terminal at Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport must therefore be abandoned (this would increase its capacity from 80 to 120 million passengers per year, which is completely in contradiction with our desire to limit air traffic).