Beware the UIC Train to Paris – cross border rail for dignitaries only

4166912838_3c94ded9ea_oIn 2009 the United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Copenhagen. The UIC organised a special night train (pictured) for dignitaries to be able to get from Brussels to Copenhagen by rail – the Climate Express. By 2009 regular night trains to Brussels were already history, and in 2014 Deutsche Bahn axed its Copenhagen – Amsterdam / Basel / Prague service. I wrote about the hypocricy of this on my blog here.

So fast forward to 2015, and we are at it again. The latest round of COP (COP21) negotiations is in Paris 30th November – 11th December 2015, and the UIC is at it again – its public relations department is already going into overdrive, with a dedicated website and Twitter account about the train(s) they will run to get people to the conference.

The trains will run to Paris, the hub of SNCF that has abolished the vast majority of its national night trains, and cancelled all of them to Spain and Germany. The country that has such a lousy collaboration with its neighbour railways that its timetables are a mess at Irun-Hendaye and it doesn’t sell tickets at Genève or Ventimiglia even though it runs trains from both. Set this against the wider background of decreasing numbers of international connections across many borders in Europe as I have documented on this blog.

So here’s an idea, journalists and reporters – rather than swallowing this nice PR from UIC, ask why regular passengers do not have access to similar services as the dignitaries do. Ask the dignitaries and politicians what the last time was that they actually travelled on a long distance rail service, and ask what they are doing to save and improve cross border rail in the EU.

Yes, rail is a green way to travel. But organising cross border trains for publicity purposes is no good – it’s green washing!

[Update 20.4.15, 2230] – turns out there’s a Climate Express that’s activist run. That looks a whole lot better!

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