06. October 2016

No hindrances to the Austrian night train service

Passenger groups in the Pro-Rail Alliance welcome the Austrians’ courage

The night train has been saved and passenger groups welcome the Austrians’ courage. But politicians make life hard for night trains and tickets more expensive.
Good night: Policies in Germany make life hard for night trains. Now the national operator Deutsche Bahn has handed the baton on to Austrian Railways. Passenger associations are looking forward to the new ‘Night Jet’.

Berlin, October 6 2016. The passenger groups organized in the Pro-Rail Alliance have welcomed the courage being shown by the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) to take over selected night train connections from the German national operator Deutsche Bahn, which is withdrawing from the night train segment in December. “The flair of the railways has a lot to do with the sense of expectation we had as children when we first travelled in a sleeping compartment,” said the honorary chairman of Pro Bahn, Karl-Peter Naumann on Thursday in Berlin. “The ÖBB offensive is more than just an everyday transport service. It allows us to hope that the night train will remain a living part of our railway culture.” Naumann wished the Austrians good luck with the relaunch of the service, which is being branded ‘Night Jet’. The national chairman of the ecological transport club VCD, Michael Ziesak, emphasised the fact that the night trains services operated by Deutsche Bahn had never lacked passengers. “What the German night trains were missing wasn’t customers but the backing of politicians,” said the VCD boss. “In the competition with low-cost airlines and the rapidly expanding network of long-distance coach services, the railways would be strategically well advised to create a range of excellent night train services.” The job of politicians now is to remove the hindrances on ÖBB and to address the unfair competitive conditions that the night train services are facing.

Policies are making tickets expensive

Naumann and Ziesak criticised the fact that the night train service’s operators and passengers have in the past been neglected by German policy makers. For example, passengers on cross-border night trains who bought a ticket in Germany had to pay value added tax on the German part of the journey, whereas most other EU states impose no VAT on rail tickets for cross-border journeys. Airline passengers also pay no VAT on international flights. In addition, there is an imbalance in how fuel is taxed. Airlines and air travellers do not have to pay tax on aviation fuel and are not liable for eco taxes. In contrast, train operators and rail passengers are burdened with EEG green energy levies and have to pay eco taxes. “Politicians make life hard for night train services,” said the Pro-Rail Alliance board members. After Austria, the railways in Germany pay the highest taxes on traction current in the EU.

Video: statements on the night train by Karl-Peter Naumann (passenger association Pro Bahn) and Michael Ziesak (VCD Transport Club Germany). 2:22 min. (German)