On Wednesday 14th January at 1100, 3 members of the Bundestag from Die Linke – Sabine Leidig, Herbert Behrens and Caren Lay – are organising a public hearing about long distance rail in Europe. The title of this is “Rückzug der Deutschen Bahn AG bei Nacht- und Autoreisezügen stoppen – Nachhaltige Reisekultur in Europa fördern” (“Stop withdrawal of Deutsche Bahn AG night and car transport trains – Promoting sustainable travel culture in Europe”). I’ll be going along to the hearing and will live-tweet if possible using the tag #EUZuege in English and German.
The documents so far available for the hearing are: (all PDFs)
- Stellungnahme DB Mobility Logistics AG
- Stellungnahme Jakob Kunze
- Stellungnahme Thomas Sauter-Servaes
- Stellungnahme Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband
- Stellungnahme IGES
- Stellungnahme Joachim Holstein
- NEW: Stellungnahme Eisenbahn- und Verkehrsgewerkschaft
There are two interesting parts of the DB evidence, translated roughly here into English:
The night train connections Copenhagen Amsterdam / Basel / Prague ran on the night of 2 to 3 November 2014 for the last time. This business decision of the two partners DB and DSB preceded the decision of the Danish state, set the end of 2014, to subsidize the overnight train and to support the night train offer the DSB. In order to maintain the overnight train offer was no longer mapped to and from Denmark*. To compensate DB will offer long-distance together with the partner DSB in the high season from mid-June to early September, two additional connections between Hamburg and Copenhagen.
I cannot work out what the sentence marked * actually means – I presume it means that the paths had already been cancelled, so the train could not be reinstated. How this correlates with what Danish transport minister Heunicke has been saying on Twitter here is hard to determine. This is the key issue to work out in the hearing tomorrow. Can it really be true that Denmark offered to save the train, and DB declined? And does that mean there could be a chance to reinstate it?
The DB commitment for extra trains is OK, but not super. Normally there are 4 ICEs each way each day, with 4 carriages each, and 1 additional EuroCity (composed of 1 or 2 DSB IC3s – so the same sort of capacity as an ICE) each way each day at peak season. Two additional EuroCity services will be added, slightly improving early and late connections, and also helping to ease the chronic overcrowding on this route in summertime (and that was even before the abolishment of the night train).
Then to France:
In addition, at the timetable change in December 2014, the connections Hamburg / Berlin / Munich-Paris, mainly due to the high cost in France, taken from the offer. The total cost per train kilometer for the operation of the overnight train are in France to 70% higher than in Germany.
This is interesting for two reasons. First, it confirms what campaigners had long expected, that track access charges are at the root of the problem in France. Secondly, this vocabulary is harsh – DB talks of its partners DSB in Denmark, but there are no soft words for SNCF or RFF!
Why not reinstall the nighttrains fron Copenhagen during the summerseason.
Thankyou for the live tweets – very informative. Will the Bundestag produce an official record of what happened in the session?
It doesn’t make much sense to me that SNCF seems happy to run domestic couchette services from Paris to variety of bizarre backwater destinations such as L’Hospitalet(for a bus to Andorra) and Latour de Carol(I’ve been there, it’s a ghost town), it has no interest in retaining services to Germany or Spain. In November the french night service to Luchon was cut – but only because the line was closed. By that time it had a speed limit of 10km/h due to lack of maintenance and the only train service apart from the sleeper was 1 train a day!
It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that international train services have always been the lowest common denominator of what all the involved parties want to do, and that this value is now dropping like a stone.
Germany does have an independently operated night service in the shape of the Berlin Night Express, and Thello runs night trains from France to Italy, so I suppose we can hope that another organisation might step in if DB drops night trains altogether.
Unless I have missed something, there are going to be extensive maintenance works between Odense and Middelfart from 1 May to 9 August, with lots of cancelled trains as a result and only one track available. References in Danish:
What trains do I use to get from Bangor to Warsaw?