Weekend of Action to put European rail #backontrack

International press release

In response to continued cuts to the cross/border rail services in Europe – including night train routes such as Berlin–Brussels–Paris, Copenhagen – Prague and Barcelona – Milan – continent/wide actions over the weekend aimed to kick/start a turnaround in transport policy.

At Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof, activists set out folding beds with cards stamped with the names of places no longer accessible by rail. The action was timed to coincide with the arrival of the first relaunched Russian Railways service from Moscow to Paris, reconnecting Berlin and Paris overnight albeit on a greatly reduced schedule compared with the daily City Night Line service scrapped in December 2014.

Parallel actions took place in Basel, Bern, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Geneva, Hamburg, Madrid, Odense (DK), Paris and Vienna over the weekend ending Sunday. 21 June. Events took place in a total of 11 cities in 6 different countries.

>> BackOnTrack_International-press-release (pdf)

A week of bad news for cross-border rail

From Switzerland the news that the Zürich – Strasbourg – Luxembourg – Brussels EuroCity train will be cancelled from December 2015 onwards. This train has been progressively reduced over the years – it once ran as far as Milano Centrale, and has suffered from poor quality rolling stock and no restaurant car for the last few years. Ticket prices have also been high, with no reductions for booking ahead. Source: NZZ in German, final paragraph

The situation between Stockholm and Oslo was due to improve – SJ wanted to run 3 return trains each day, and to cut journey times to just over four and a half hours. Norwegian network operator has forced SJ to shelve these plans as they want to do daytime engineering works between Lillstrøm and Konsvinger for the next two and a half years! Once more international traffic is not a priority for transport planners. Source: DN in Swedish, IRJ summary in English

Latest news from Norway: The fast train Stockholm-Oslo will be in traffic as planned afterall. A new agreement has been reached. Renewal of the power supply will be postponed and carried out in a way that disturbs the traffic less.

The Night Train to Copenhagen was cancelled for good in December 2014. Now the exact future of the daytime EuroCity connection between Hamburg and the Danish capital, as DB is not continuing the lease of its ICE-TD trains to DSB beyond this year. With ongoing problems in Denmark with electification of main lines, and IC4 trains still not running, the future of direct connections are also in danger here. And all of this before the building works on the Fehmarn fixed belt starts… Source: IRJ in English

Picture: Couchette cars are pushed on board the ferry at Trelleborg
Malmö to Berlin private night train is fighting for survival
Only seasonal and struggeling the ferry timetable Trelleborg to Sassnitz/Mukran Swedish/French company Transdev in cooperation with the German partner Georg-Verkehrsorganisation is also figting DB. A platform in Pasewalk has been rebuild no longer to service cars from Sweden. Only six old Danish couchette cars can pass. And the old GVG type 109 no. 3 lok is temporary banned at Berlin Hbh. Leaving passengers in the fully booked train (360 people) with an mediocre experience. The train cannot be found on international plans.

Petition: No more cuts – Develop Europe’s long-distance rail!

A European petition is initiated and is aimed to run all the way to the Paris Climate Summit COP21, which takes place early December 2015.

Find the very same petition here in English, in Germanin Danish, in Norwegian, in French, in Swedish, in Spanishin Esperanto and this is the promise Back on Track has made to the (hopefully) many, who will sign:

The Back on Track coalition will take your opinion to the rail companies and to EU together with some more practical proposals.

1) No more cuts – maintain all cross-border long-distance services at least at current levels (regional and long distance services)
2) Direct trains shall be established between major cities in all European countries, both by day and by night
3) National rail companies shall cooperate with each other, rather than competing with each other
4) Establishment of a true European rail timetable information and ticket booking system, open for anyone to use for free, and containing data of all trains at least 3 months ahead of departure.

1) Establishment of a true European rail timetable information and ticket booking system, open for anyone to use for free, and containing data of all trains at least 3 months ahead of departure
2) Guaranteed compensation for delays and obligation to re-establish the travel chain, even if tickets are booked from different operators
3) Complete transparency of track access charges for all trains, of all types and speeds, on all tracks in the EU and accession countries
4) Grant powers to the European Railway Agency to coordinate cross-border timetables, to ensure changing at the border station is possible if no through service is possible
5) Remove rules preventing rolling stock subsidized by EU funds from being used on cross border routes
6) International train tickets should not be more expensive than the sum of the prices for the similar local tickets
7) Introduce an EU-wide core network for both daytime and nighttime cross-border services, and where these services cannot be run on a profit making basis introduce cross-border public service obligations to support the service, between all EU capital cities

All proposals should be achieved in the EU and accession countries by end of 2018

Swiss railway customers want the night train back to Rome, Barcelona and Copenhagen

The Swiss environmental organization “Umverkehr” came on national radio today 22.4. It was here announced, that “Umverkehr” will team up with partners abroad in the fight for night trains. In June Umverkehr will join the demonstrations in Europe.


Airplanes as the replacement to overnight trains
Umverkehr has made a survey: Where the night train is missing, most survey participants (64 percent) consider the aircraft as a replacement.

Politically, the climate is questionable, says “Umverkehr” -chairperson Philippe Koch to the consumer magazine “Espresso” on Radio SRF 1: “It is obvious. The removal of the night train lines leads one to one for the promotion of aviation”

Sleeper wake-up call to the SBB
The mentioned survey is related to a petition for obtaining the night trains – and also the SBB to animate “itself out exactly what they could do in terms of night trains.” At the moment it does little: 2009, SBB sold their sleeper and couchette cars for economic reasons.

The remaining night trains are operated by foreign railways. These operators decide about which connections they offer, says SBB spokesman Christian Ginsig. “SBB has only limited influence here, unfortunately.”

>> Listen to the Swiss radio program with “Umverkehr” from 22.4. 2015

Toolkit: Let’s put European trains back on track !


Painting a banner for the action in Copenhagen.





Easy, comfortable and safe. Trains are also the greenest way to travel in Europe. But several night trains have been cut back or stopped completely in the last months and years. It’s becoming impossible to travel in Europe by train and many jobs are threatened in the rail sector.


* Look if there already is an action being planned in your region. If yes, get in touch with the organizer. The action will be better if you join the preparations.

* If you want to make an action in your city, read on to know how to start.

  1. Get together

Get together with some friends and start planning. It’s better to start with a few people now rather than waiting until other groups join. You need only 3-5 people to act, and if your plan is good more people will join in the end.

  1. Brainstorm an idea


DON’T FORGET to be CREATIVE and CLEAR about the message you want to give and how you send it. Banners and songs are very useful to make it visible.

THINK ABOUT the picture you will take of the action. Can it speak by itself? Do you think people will be willing to share it? If yes, you’re ready!

>> See the first four ideas to actions! Other ideas can be added as you wish.

  1. Fix the date and the time (and make it public)

Depending on: your group availability, the likeliness to get media to come to your action, the business of the train station, the light or darkness you want to see on your pictures…

Give an earlier time to the volunteers than to the media so you’re ready when the latter arrive.

  1. Declare your action (or don’t)

But be aware of your rights and responsibilities. It is usually not illegal to sing or give out leaflets outside a train station or at a platform, but you should stop if the police asks you to. You can also ask for permission, but there is a risk that train companies will say no.

  1. Recruit more people

Contact the labour organisation from the rail sector, transport users and environmental groups – they all care about the future of trains!

Your friends, colleagues and family could also join. After all, who has never taken the train?

Make posters and flyers to spread the word around your city before the day of the action!

Don’t forget to make a Facebook event to make the buzz!

  1. Invite the media

Tell them about your action, the European campaign and petition and why you’re taking action.

  1. More important, make your own media:

As soon as you have fixed the date and place, share it with the relevant people.

Bring a photo camera (and a photographer) and upload the pictures or videos with the hashtag #NightTrainDreams

Be creative and please tell us your action ideas so we can spread them to others.

Good luck!



First get-together and common demonstration in Berlin

Activists from different places in Europa were gathered in Berlin on Friday. 6 March 2015. That afternoon had the majority government in Bundestag voted down the opposition’s proposal. The idea was to make DB stop the cuts of night trains and car-trains until there is provided a solid plan for how Night trains can find a new and improved model.

The case is that DB does not consider the operation of night trains and car-trains is profitable enough. And the government majority does not believe that they can impose DB some special requirements that go beyond the purely commercial. The German government does not subsidize the operation of the IC, ICE, as well as international day and night trains.


Here is the Danish representative from the “Council for sustainable Traffic” Poul Kattler at Copenhagen Central Station before departing early morning with the ICE train to Berlin. With his poster and campaign blouses in bag and backpack.




Sabine Leidig, member of the Bundestag for the party Die Linke speak at the rally at. 14:30 in front of the iconic Reichstag building in Berlin. Sabine tells about what happened in the early afternoon, when the opposition was voted down. Sabine is a strong and enthusiastic support in the fight to preserve international daytime and overnight passenger trains.



Michael Cramer from the German Green, Member of the European Parliament and chairman of the parliament’s environment committee. In his speech he thundered against the devastating fragmentation of European railways.




There were hardly met more than 35 participants who did not seem like much on the huge square in front of the large building. But most important was that the demonstration took place in the right place the right day and that participants were not only local, but also international.



Bernhard Knierim from Bündnis Bahn für Alle was last speaker on the square and urged the crowd to participate in the subsequent meeting inside the parliament building. This meeting brought together 15 participants who began the work to organize the coming campaigns. Among the participants is a core of experienced activists who represent important environmental and pro-rail groups in Europe.