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!