UK «The courage to defend the French!»
1. France has always defended rail transport as a spatial planning tool and a real alternative to air transport.
First of all, we defend the reconstruction of the French night train network, which has been gradually dismantled for more than a decade. For us, the night train is a popular, environmentally friendly and efficient mode of transport. At the same time, we will promote rail cooperation between European nations.
In addition, for the train to be attractive, it is necessary to maintain the capacity to invest in quality lines in as many territories as possible, including by using loans at 0% interest from the European Central Bank. Affordable rates must also be designed, especially for families, young people and retirees.
2. We are defending an increase in taxes on kerosene to make the train cheaper than the plane. At the same time, SNCF will have to move away from a market approach to become a fully-fledged public service once again and offer accessible fares to the entire population. Because a cheap rail alternative must exist in the face of rising air transport costs: long-distance transport must not be reserved for the richest.
3. We believe that rail transport is an essential public service. As the English example shows, its liberalisation is deeply harmful. Cooperation between national companies supported by a European agency dedicated to rail transport will make it possible to develop international links.
4. We find these proposals excellent: we will support them within the framework of a project of cooperation between nations. We will create a European agency dedicated to the development of rail transport in Europe.
5. We defend a Europe of free nations and concrete projects. We reject a federalist European Union and want to give back to the nations – the only spaces of true democratic life – their essential prerogatives (laws, budget). At the same time, we want to strengthen concrete cooperation between European countries: the development of an interconnected European rail network will be one of the important cooperations to be set up. This will be one of the missions of the agency we will create.
6. Everything must be put in place to make the train more attractive than the plane. It is therefore necessary to define compensation conditions favourable to the user and to encourage cooperation between companies in the event of delays.
7. In parallel with a carbon tax at European borders to combat environmental and social dumping, we are defending a European tax on kerosene that will be used to finance the ecological transition, and therefore partly to finance investment in rail infrastructure. We defend this tax as part of our alliance around the ECR group, a gathering of 23 European parties.
8. We will not ban short-haul flights, but we will do everything we can to make rail transport more attractive than air transport.
The issue is complex because some short-haul flights allow passengers to fold back onto hubs, thus improving the filling of long-haul flights.
In France, it is necessary to make better use of the fact that major airports (Roissy, Lyon Saint-Exupéry) have a high-speed train station. 9. The priority is to develop a cheap and efficient alternative to flying: investing heavily in night trains.