22. April 2016

Pro-Rail Alliance: opportunity for Austrian night trains

Return of the night train? Austria is investing in new services

There is a certain flair to boarding a train in Berlin and waking up in Milan. Night trains are a part of railway culture.

 

Berlin, April 22, 2016.

The German Pro-Rail Alliance is pleased with the announcement by the Austrian National Railways (ÖBB) that it is planning to extend its own network of night train services beyond its borders. “The night train is an integral part of railway culture, one that many travellers associate with a certain flair. The chances are therefore good that the ÖBB night train will be a success with German travellers,” said Dirk Flege, managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, on Friday in Berlin. Flege was referring to Friday’s ÖBB press conference in Vienna where it presented its financial results. The ÖBB’s CEO Kern reported that the night train segment had seen a four percent increase in growth and announced investments of 230 million euros. “We are hoping that the ÖBB’s German services will also breathe new life into this essential part of the railway system,” said Flege, who referred to a report in the Austrian Standard newspaper that said ÖBB’s aim was to compensate for Deutsche Bahn’s withdrawal from night train services. The Russian national railways and the British have also recently announced massive investment in their night train services. Karl-Peter Naumann, honorary chairman of the German rail passenger group Pro-Bahn, called attention to the fact that night train services do not have a problem with demand. “Deutsche Bahn’s night trains were and are full. Deutsche Bahn does not have a problem with passenger numbers, it has a problem with the costs,” said Naumann, who is also a member of the board of the Pro-Rail Alliance.

Politicians are making life hard for night trains.

The Pro-Rail Alliance criticised the fact that a greater range of night train services could be made available if policy makers were to take their feet off the brakes. Companies and passengers have been let down in the past by politicians. Managing director Dirk Flege pointed out that passengers who buy tickets in Germany for international night train journeys must pay the full rate of value added tax on the German section of the journey, whereas most countries in the EU do not impose VAT on international rail tickets. Airline passengers also do not have to pay VAT on international flights. In addition, there is a discrepancy in how fuel is taxed. Airlines and airline passengers pay no fuel duties and no eco taxes. In contrast, train operators and rail passengers have to pay duties on the traction current, as well as green energy levies and eco taxes. “Policy makers make life hard for night trains,” said Flege. After Austria, the rail operators in Germany pay the highest duties on electric current for traction in the EU.

 

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