Protest in Berlin, Wednesday 16th.

A protest action against the decision to close down DB/CNL night- and autotrains in/from Germany is taking place when the Supervisory Board is seated to discuss this controversial issue.

Venue: Wednesday, 16th. of December 2015 from 10: 00 in front of the DB Tower, Potsdamer Platz.
Everyone are mostly welcome, both those representing organizations, NGOs, initiatives
and all individuals!

With this action we are going to put maximal pressure on all representatives on the Supervisory Board.

Thursday 10.12.2015 there was a meeting of BACK-ON-TRACK in Paris, with representatives from Sweden, France, Italy and Germany. We decided to continue our campaign against the horrible decision of the DB, as well as other threads toward international and national long distance trains with other European railways. We are dedicated to fight for a modern night and long distance railway network in Europe.

Friday 11.12. 2015 there was a small stand in an NGO-Hall in Paris with information, flyers and online protest to the head of Deutsche Bahn and to DB Supervisory Board members.

DB on wrong course: Danish ngo demand political pressure on German politicians

To the Danish Transport Minister and Committee of Transportation with the Danish parliament

Will the Minister raise a protest against the German Railways announced closures of the last night trains, as Danish travelers use for instance from Hamburg?

From the next timetable change in December 2016 the German Railways (DB) announce a dismantling of all remaining DB / CNL-night trains and Auto trains to and from Germany.

Thus, DB shows clearly that long-distance trains and night trains is a business segment, they do not want to operate. It is not a lack of passengers which causes this action, but a one-sided emphasis on high-speed trains on the main routes in the daytime.

Decommissioning of the night train from Copenhagen last year thus comes in a new and sad perspective. Neither this train was abandoned by passengers.

Danish (and southern Sweden) travellers can then only with a certain element of self-flagellation make longer train journeys to Europe. The whole day will be used and travellers must expect many changes of train along the way. The only realistic alternative is to travel by plane. Air traffic is indirectly subsidized by no taxes and no fuel taxes. But air traffic has an extreme negative impact on the climate.

Will the Minister initiate a protest from the Danish side directed at the Minister’s German counterpart, so that the night trains – to the benefit of the passengers and for the climate – remains part of the European transport system?

Kjeld A. Larsen, Chairman, Council of Sustainable Traffic, Denmark
Poul Kattler, Board member

DB will cut it away: Disaster for European Night Trains

DB wants to close all night trains and car transport train from December 2016!
This horrifying news was released a bit too early (already d. 4.12. in stead of 14.12.). And now it is clear that there is an overall master plan behind DB’s behavior concerning trains with sleeping and couchette cars. The will certainly get rid of them!
cnl-baselDB said already in October 2014 to Die Welt that they would remove night train, Motorail trains and dining cars. But it was not taken seriously at the time.
It looks like a simple plan: There shall not be invested in these services, and trains shall be removed according to the pace carriages runs out of audit (required for overhaul). First was dining cars removed from all night trains. Then a large number of night trains were cancelled at the timetable change in December 2014 at the moment the double-stock sleeper cars had to be repaired. Slightly more wagons fall for revision here in December 2015 (another night train is killed) and finally the last night trains are cancelled at the next timetable change in December 2016 when the vast majority of sleeping and couchette cars is to be inspected.
DB will let some ICE trains run at night and insert several long distance buses. What a terrible alternative!
This has not surprisingly led to an outcry in Germany. Neighboring countries must also protest. Perhaps ÖBB will take over some night trains through Germany, but nobody can expect to ÖBB will assume the DB’s position.

>> See the first article about the case in the Stuttgarter Zeitung (German) from 02.12.

>> See another article on the case (German) later that night 02.12.

>> See protest announcement with Swizz umvehrkerH

BACK ON TRACK at COP21 on December 10th

Thursday 10 December

1) Internal Back on Track meeting 15h00-16h30 (with Skype participation)

2) Open meeting 16h30-18H10
3) Noami Klein’s Conference for those who are interested

Locations :
1 and 2 will happen at Mundo M, 47 avenue pasteur – 93100 Montreuil
3 happens at Le Centquatre-Paris (Le 104), 5 rue Curial, 75019 Paris, 19th arrondissement.
It takes at least 45 minutes from a place to the other, if you’re not slow)
Organizer: Lorelei Limousin

Climate Train action in Berlin

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28.11. 2015. Berlin Hbh, track 8 around 8:45.

Back on Track activists was Saturday morning on action in Berlin. The German COP21 delegation went by special train to Paris.
We are of course happy message that is sent when politicians need to Paris by train. But we would like to have more trains, would like to have reintroduced night train and establish direct train. Why should it be only on festive occasions like this that are a direct train between these two European cities?
The European railways have the ability to provide competition to climate-hostile aircraft. But neither politicians nor railway companies take environment seriously when it comes to realities within the transport sector.


>> Find pictures here!

The political themes were identical to the on-line petition.

Night trains came to the EU-parliament in Strasbourg

Three members of the coalition were invited by the GUE/NGL (European United Left / Nordic Green Left) fraction of the European Parliament to give arguments to a discussion with the Commission on the Fourth Railway Package, which was about to start.

The Back on Track members were Joachim Holstein, Philippe Koch and Poul Kattler. The visit took place 27.-28.10. 2015.

We met the whole group (with some absent to other meetings) Tuesday night and starting with a small quiz to engage the audience, we made a summary of our views. Wednesday morning we met with MEP Merja Kyllonen and three assistants and went into details.

A main point from the discussion Wednesday was the atomization of the passenger railway sector. Regions with subsidy-systems make it difficult to cross borders to other regions. Countries the same. Cross border traffic is hereby suffering.

Traffic is seen more as individual lines in stead of networks. We could tell about good experiences with networks operated by different operators in Switzerland.

Politicians said that ideology was prevailing, saying that free market was always the best.

>> Prelude about night trains

>> General presentation from Joachim Holstein

>> Poul Kattlers presentation about unfair competition and climate

The future of the night trains? – hearing in Switzerland

This question is at the heart of umverkehR-hearing last night in Bern. For the approximately 60 guests who followed the discussion quickly became clear from the statement of Armin Weber (head of International Passenger SBB division), that the night train are not offered a strategic priority neither by SBB nor by the DB. With SBB, the current focus is on long-distance traffic during daytime that can be served by high-speed trains in a radius of 4-6 hours.

haering-BernBoth Joachim Holstein (Workers representative DB ERS) as well as Jürg Streuli (railway journalist) pleaded for considering night trains as an integral part of the whole range of railway companies and to take not just individual routes into view and economically analyze. Night trains satisfy a specific demand that can be satisfied by day trains. On the other hand, night trains are also suppliers for day trains, which would not be posted to the same extent if the night trains no longer existed. Demand for night trains is good, although this is hardly invested in visibility or advertising.

Aline Trede (Co-President umverkehR) pointed out in the discussion on the lack of political will to keep the night trains. The Federal Council would have the possibility to define a strategic objective for SBB a minimum range of night trains, contrary to their own statements. SBB could provide this offer in cooperation with other railway companies. But until now the political will lacks to actually promote sustainable travel and to ensure a level playing field between the different modes. Armin Weber finally pleaded for an equal treatment of transport, and thus that the tax concessions for the airports and bus routes are canceled. Only then would it be possible for a railway company as the SBB, maintain a wide range of connections.

The hearing has shown that a political and entrepreneurial room for maneuver exists to keep the night trains in the future. At the same time there was expressed concern that there is a risk due to the outdated rolling stock that suddenly no night trains will run because the cars cannot drive any more.

Therefore umverkehR Calls:

  1. that the Federal Council demands a minimum of night train in its strategic objectives for SBB.
  2. that the SBB with other railway companies (notably DB) maintain the existing Night Train offer from/to Switzerland and improves the quality.
  3. that the SBB involves financially in the acquisition of new rolling stock.
  4. that the SBB is working towards that a Europe-wide timetable and ticket platform is set up, which enables customers to get easy access to cross-border train services and to view and to purchase tickets for all cross-border rail travel online and at the counter.
  5. that the SBB will look for better conditions for night trains so their operations can become even more commercial.

The hearing was on 22.10. between 17.00 and 19:00

>> Read more

11.114 signatures handed over in Switzerland

umverkehR has 30.9. handed over 11’114 signatures from the petition “Save the night train” organised together with other organizations (IGöV, Green Party, Pro Velo, Pro Bahn, Young Green, JUSO, foot traffic Switzerland) to the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) in Bern. With the petition, umverkehR urged the Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and the SBB to keep the remaining night train to reinstall the closed lines. The aim is to develop a sustainable strategy for the international rail passenger transport.

>> Read morepetition-in-Bern

Supporting rail means supporting our economy and citizens

Transport White Paper from CER and EPF concludes:

Passenger associations and railways share a common vision: a European rail sector that is the backbone of a seamless, multimodal and accessible transport system, an enabler for the competitiveness, inclusiveness and sustainability of the European economy.

Effective steps need to be taken to turn the White Paper’s objectives into reality, and the railways are committed to achieving a situation where the rail sector advances technological innovation and new service models in areas such as ticketing, travel information and real-time information for customers.

By continually embracing technological and societal changes, the sector works towards increased passenger care and service quality in order to better meet the needs and expectations of its customers.

>> Take a look at the White Paper, published 9.9. 2015

Debate: A good ticket policy a part of a good integrated train system

Variable prices and non-refundable train tickets. It has become daily business in European railways. Even if Intercity trains run every hour, the ticket at 2 pm can be much cheaper than on the 1pm train. The system is copying what is known from airlines. An online system is auctioning tickets, cheap tickets are possible three months ahead, but if you at a given day book four tickets the price is already going considerable up in relation to one – you yourself increase demand – a very sensible system! You stop the computer and try again later with one ticket. And now is the price is again reduced. Prices go up and down, and finally they reach full fare. Suddenly a good bargain on first class will appear?

And don’t forget: Tickets are only valid to the specific train. Do you lose the train, and pick up the next, the ticket is lost, and you have to pay a new ticket to full fare. That is a very unpleasant surprise to many travelers. Do you experience this too many times, you are not going to be a happy railway costumer.

A stiff timetable with trains in a ½ hour, 1 hour and 2 hours schedule fortunately exists in many countries; even Germany is looking into this option. Passengers love it. One of the best known examples is in Switzerland, where the system is perfect. But as in Switzerland it makes no sense to introduce stiff timetables together with variable and non-refundable tickets. Passengers will soon learn to hate such a ticket system.

In Denmark we have a system close to the “good old one” – tickets to flat rates related to distance, and refundable. But prices are very high, and only as regular commuter you get a cheap fare (minimum for 30 days on a specific line). Those who travels rather often, but not on daily basis, does not get any rebates. Our new, and sophisticated “Travelcard” makes rebates to frequent travelers but in zones and very un-transparent. We have considerable rebates to students and retired persons. DSB does sell some online cheap tickets on not so popular departures (Orange tickets), and they are non-refundable. But the market share of Orange tickets is rather small.

In Switzerland you can rather cheap get a half fare card (or SwizzPass) for 185 Francs valid for one year. That is a good bargain, and makes it easier to quit the car, and just rely on the very efficient railway network. This is exactly the whole idea. And tickets from the ticket machines are valid all day, forget about which train, and forget about seat reservations, there is normally seats to all in the big trains. This is combined with commuter cards optimal! It gives us a feeling that public transportation is a real network, and that the system cares for you! A train running late? No, problem, the next will come shortly, your ticket is fine and your connection will be re-established.20150706_134845

Full fare tickets in Switzerland are not cheap. But half fare is ok.

Off course there are additional systems to the main system in Switzerland. In the Cantons tourists can obtain 5-6 days travel passes, there are also local “free fare” systems. But none of this is breaking the major principles.

Leave the variable prices and discount offers to busses and plains

Railways across Europe should learn from Switzerland. Both regarding rail investments, rail quality and ticketing system.

Auctioning tickets is very unpleasant. You wouldn’t expect such systems in urban traffic, would you? Why in Intercity traffic? Leave such systems to other kind of traffic, where they do not belong to a network. It may look cheap at the first place, but is stressful, inflexible and may show up as the most expensive solution.

Poul Kattler

Copenhagen, Danmark