German Green politicians present plans for Europe-wide night train services
To cut the number of short-haul flights in Europe, a group of German Green Party politicians has presented proposals for an expansion of train services, in particular night trains, in Europe. The new night train network would connect major European cities and holiday regions that currently are popular destinations for inner-European flights. Even islands in the Mediterranean Sea, such as Majorca, could be comfortably reached by train and ferry in the future, the Green Party says. The federal transport ministry has also presented a concept for upgrading European rail traffic this year. “But the number of available connections is limited for now,” writes Jurik Caspar Iser on Zeit Online. According to a survey commissioned by NGO Germanwatch, 69 percent of respondents in Germany, Poland, France, Spain and the Netherlands said they would use night train services, Iser writes. But the slow modernisation of the rail system and competition with freight transport mean that night trains in particular are often slower than the equivalent day trains. Moreover, night train connections are not financially viable for train companies because of the high rail fees they have to pay.
A ban of cheap short-distance flights and other ways to curb emissions from the transport sector are one of the hotly debated topics of the campaign before the election on 26 September.