This text is part of our district magazine Lichtenberger Stachel (Lichtenberg Sting). Check out the full magazine here (unfortunately only in German).
Anyone who ever had to wait for the S-Bahn at Lichtenberg station, has surely noticed the special train at the other end of the track, painted in red and white with an elegant nose. This train once was the show piece of the German Reichsbahn of the GDR – it reminds us of times when traveling on tracks was in fashion and faster than anything else. At the same time, those travels were a privilege only available for the few who had the permisdion to travel abroad.
Borders for us in Europe – thanks to Schengen – aren’t barriers anymore and regular travel is affordable for many people. But unfortunately, on international routes airplanes have long overtaken trains. From the consumers‘ perspective this is absolutely understandable, as thanks to unfair tax reliefs at the cost of train travel, flying mostly is the cheapest alternative. For the environment, this is a huge problem.
More and more travellers want to forego the climate damaging flights and would like to – if there were alternatives – travel comfortably at night on the tracks which is also proven by the success of the Austrian Federal Railway nightline branch. Business travellers on the other hand, who consistently make up two thirds of the flight travellers, would not have to choose between damaging climate and spending less time with their families.
I, too, have had to take this decision more often than I liked. But it could be so simple: saying good-bye to the family in the evening, getting into the S-Bahn to the main station in Lichtenberg and waking up well rested in Brussels in the morning. That is why last autumn I and several other Members of Parliament turned to the German government and demanded a climate neutral EU council presidency: by re-introducing the night train Berlin – Brussels.
When Germany is taking over the council presidency this summer, many people will be traveling between Berlin and Brussels. A night train from capital to capital would be a proper re-entry into the night train traffic by the Deutsche Bahn. Coloured in blue and yellow, the European flag, it would be a sign how serious we are about reducing our carbon footprint.
The author Hannah Neumann is a member of European Parliament and former co-chair of the Lichtenberg Greens.