German Green party proposes trans-European night train network

German Green party proposes trans-European night train network

German Green party proposes trans-European night train network

Transport is a central issue in the debate on climate change. Cars and planes emit huge amounts of pollutants and yet are by far the most popular ways of travelling. Now, Germany's Green party has proposed a Europe-wide night train network to create a viable, climate-friendly way of travelling long distances.

German Greens push for European night train service

Germany’s Alliance90 / The Greens party has unveiled plans for a night train network that would span across Europe. The network would include around 40 international lines and provide a service to more than 200 large cities, towns and holiday destinations. The Greens published a map of the proposed “Euro Night Sprinter – Netzvision 2030+”, which would connect places like Edinburgh and Lisbon in the west, with cities like Istanbul and Saint Petersburg in the east.

The plans would also make it easier for travellers to book international train tickets by providing a uniform booking platform. Currently, passengers often have to book individual tickets for different countries, rather than being able to book their entire trip via one booking platform, which can often make international train tickets expensive.

Providing a climate-friendly mode of transportation

Night trains provide a climate-friendly alternative to driving or flying. They can also be a more comfortable way to travel, since night trains cut out the long procedures passengers often face at the airport (like check-in and security) and trains, in general, offer a lot of onboard amenities that make journeys easier and relaxing, like charging sockets and dining cars.

The Greens have blamed the government for not doing enough to promote climate-friendly travel, pointing towards the federal government’s spending of 1,5 billion euros on rail travel in 2021 yet spending almost double that for new highways and expanding the autobahn.

According to the Greens, international air travel benefits from enormous tax advantages. Airlines do not pay any tax on fuel and international flight tickets are not subject to VAT, which stands in stark contrast to rail travel where train operators pay tax on diesel and tickets are very much subject to VAT. “These distortions of competition must be corrected urgently. We need low-cost rail tickets that can compete with airfares.”

German Green MEP, Terry Reintke, who tweeted his support for the plans, told reporters, "We want to create a climate-friendly, comfortable, affordable and accessible train network across Europe. That is why the European Commission and the member states have to step up the efforts to build a European network for night trains. The next German government can play a crucial role in this."

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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