Q: 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?
It is Volt policy to end subsidies to fossil fuels, as well as impose a carbon tax. In this way we want to create monetary incentives to reduce the more polluting forms of travel such as air and encourage the more sustainable forms of travel such as travelling by train which are to date less affordable and less competitive.
We want to make the sustainable choice the most convenient and the most comfortable to continue to enable Europeans to experience and work across the continent as unhindered as possible with a strong environmental focus. One that can only be achieved by having a strong focus on reducing fossil fuel usage.
Cost and booking options are big factors when it comes to encouraging people to choose trains over flights. Volt favours digital solutions and would propose to create a single EU-wide booking platform linking every country’s rail. The required framework and financing mechanism would be set by the European Commissioner for Transport and then set out for competitive creation. Funding to finance such a platform would come from the railway companies, who would subscribe to its services.
Special Business Departures to various European Hubs. Recycling Business class seats from airplanes could be a way to create a more comfortable travel and focus should be placed on noise cancellation to improve the experience, coupled with better Wi-Fi options to enable Remote Workers and decentralized digital workers. This would enable travelers to work en route and make the commute comfortable and preferable to flying short- to medium distances.
Q: What will you do in order to level the playing field between the different modes of longdistance travel or would you even give stronger support to the more climate friendly modes of transport – and how?
Volt supports shared mobility, and environmentally-friendly travelling. We support all measures and initiatives encouraging consumers to choose sustainable means of transportation and reduce their carbon footprint.
For non-electrified railway lines, hydrogen-powered trains as well as solar-powered trains need further research and should be tested so that they may eventually replace Diesel run trains. Furthermore Volt envisions that all trains of tomorrow could have solar panels on the roof to generate power while moving and hopes to further expand on the research into harnessing wind energy from passing trains.
To further level the playing field, Volt would challenge the hiring and firing practices of airlines. The commercialization of air travel has increased competition, but there are variables that cannot be mitigated, such as safety requirements, fuel costs and duties imposed by airports. Costs can be recovered through product placement, advertising, selling of data to third parties – but mostly through reducing the salary and social security burden. Examples in the airline industry include hiring staff on foreign contracts, forcing staff to buy their own uniforms, removing break times, reducing rest times and enforcing a competitive working environment on time and fuel consumption. Volt wants to empower the individual to stand up for their rights and while airline pilots have often been able to negotiate with management, short-term staff, ground crew and temporary contracted staff members are less protected which can lead to exploitative practices.
Q: 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?
Volt wants an interconnected Europe and is committed to expanding the European High Speed Highway. We want to enable travelers to criss-cross the continent comfortably, affordably and in a sustainable way. This is in a desire to increase the ways in which train travel can become more competitive while recognising the physical restrictions posed by the current rail infrastructure.
Volt’s desire for sustainable travel must be accompanied by affordable and flexible travel options which is why we wish to see better cooperation between the private and public sector to meet the real challenges of making train travel a viable option for Europeans. Establishing a single EU-wide booking platform funded by the EU linking every country’s rail is just the first step.
Q: 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?
Volt supports sustainable travel and wants to see a more interconnected Europe. Night Trains should be directly linked, non-stop high speed trains that should aim for no more than 10 hours travel time with an arrival time at the destination at 07:00 to enable morning meeting attendance. “We envision cooperative ventures bringing together industry, research and society in the development and testing of solutions for next generation sustainable public and private transport.” (Volt Mapping of Policies, p. 79)
Q: 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 same report also calls for more citizen voices to be included in the project and to infuse easier methods of ticket booking and better travel times. These are all elements that Volt supports – we are in favour of data driven policies and we would allocate funds to make this possible.
The report also observes that the EU High Speed rail is important to achieve sustainable travel across Europe and that we need to more action on national levels when it comes to cooperation. Volt is a pan-European movement with political parties in 11 European countries, so based on our shared vision for Europe, we are already discussing challenges and solutions in our respective member states. No other party would be able to table shared and achievable policies on these issues.
Q: 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?
Volt favours equality and the same rights that are afforded airline passengers should be afforded train passengers. Train passengers will in all likelihood use different countries’ services, so Volt would envision a European wide passenger right fund which is compulsory for train companies. At the moment, some countries apply exemptions but these must be removed to European rail passengers are afforded the same rights across the continent.
In order to encourage more people to take trains and to push companies to remain efficient, we need to ensure that passengers are properly compensated as a result of delays which may impact future travel plans, that is why we fully support the EU Parliament’s draft to improve passenger rights. Operators may refuse to compensate for cancellations and severe delays as a result of “exceptional circumstances,” however these circumstances need to be “force majeure” events such as natural catastrophes or terrorist attacks
Q: Slightly revised first sentence: 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?
Volt wants to introduce an EU-wide Carbon Tax. This would result in clear incentives for climate-friendly solutions and discourage the production and consumption of carbon-intensive products, such as kerosene. Volt also wishes to stop the subsidising of fossil-based fuels. Subsidies on kerosene, diesel and coal currently amount to as much as €200 billion per year, this needs to be phased out as efficiently and as quickly as possible.
We believe that the Energy Taxation Directive needs to include fossil fuels in transportation. Through these measures we hope to increase the price of air travel to its true social cost, while making rail travel more competitive.
Q: 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?
Replacing short-haul flights may not only be down to trains, but also Self Driving cars driving on electrically charged highways could become a way to empower transport in a more sustainable way than airline travel. The challenge is speed and comfort, but Volt favours data driven policies and encourage research to find alternative solutions for improvement rather than enforcing bans.
We hope to incentivize more people to take train, and for more investment in trains as they become more competitive, however to ban short distance flights would punish some less accessible parts of Europe and increase the inequalities between different member states.
Q: 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, …)?
Volt agrees that the current ETS is insufficient and proposes to introduce an EUwide Carbon tax . We would like to provide sustainable alternatives before banning and we would like to see research being put towards improving fuel efficiency, like investing in RES integration (biofuels and electric motors).’