SP (UK)

Socialistische Partij

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 EU should work on making transport more sustainable. Green alternatives should therefore be made accessible to everyone. Standards for noise and polluting emissions (like soot and NOx) need to become more strict. We strive for transport without emissions by stimulating electric driving. This should however be made accessible to everyone and not just for the elite, like now. We want more good train connections in Europe, as an alternative for flying. The train should be a lot cheaper in comparison, cheaper than flying, instead of the other way around like now often is the case.

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?
To start with, we believe it should stay possible to keep public transport publicly owned. Privatisation in public transport does not lead to cheaper and better connections, but makes sure the government has less influence. Flying should be taxed higher and electric transport like international trains should be financially supported when necessary to better compete with other methods of transport.
Unfair competition has also risen due to lowcost airlines with very poor working conditions. We will restrict airlines that make use of dubious employment contracts.

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?

This is definitely not a success. Market forces lead to the disappearance of ‘unprofitable’ routes, creating large differences in reachability in rural areas compared to urban areas. Splitting infrastructure and carriers has also proved to be a fiasco. The SP wants the tracks and the trains back in public hands.

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?

We’re looking at an enormous climate challenge. Making aviation CO2- and fossil-free will take decennia. It requires large investments in infrastructure and spatial planning procedures. Market parties won’t burn their fingers on this and prefer to use existing tracks. Government investments are necessary to make this 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?

The SP thinks there are many things countries can handle themselves without involvement from Brussels. Unless it’s about cross-border challenges. Improving the inefficient patchwork of high speed rail lines and realising a logical and structured network requires international cooperation. Unfortunately this currently receives little attention from the Brussels elite. Centralised oversight, by regarding rail lines not as individual trajectories but looking at them from a larger perspective, is necessary.

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?

To have international trains better compete with aviation, improvement of the rights of passengers is also important. The rights that now apply for aviation passengers (regulation 216/2004) also need to apply for international train travellers: the right to fully refunded cancelation after delays, with compensation based on the duration of the delay. Vouchers for food and beverages and, when needed, organised accommodation for the night. An exceptional circumstance exists if the carrier can prove not to be responsible for the delay and having done everything possible to depart on time. The same definition now applies to aviation.

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?

The SP wants to make flying less attractive for short distances by introducing excise duties on kerosene together with other EU countries. The SP has tried to do this multiple times in the past – together with politicians from other EU countries. With growing awareness of the climate problem the international pressure to tax kerosene will grow throughout the EU.

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?

The SP supports prohibiting short distance flights. To be able to prohibit these flights there first have to be a good alternative. These prohibitions will therefore not depend on distance, but on the alternatives on that route.

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 are not proponents of expanding the number of regional airports. We are not for expansion of Eindhoven or Rotterdam. Lelystad should not be allowed to be further developed. The SP also does not want further development of Twente Airport. There is enough capacity within the agreements to let Schiphol grow regarding intercontinental flights. For shorter flights the train is the better option.