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“They close it down in winter when not many people notice it”, says Lars Igeland who is carrying out an online campaign to save this public service. Lars has been working on the board of Friends of the Earth Sweden for 25 years and he himself uses night trains as a means to travel around Europe. He was about to book trips for the end of 2014 when he noticed he couldn´t make any reservations.
Real World Radio interviewed Igeland about this campaign. “There was really no information on the webpages about this”, he declared. So they decided to research and act.
Therefore, Friends of the Earth Sweden began investigating what was going on. It proved out that Deutsche Bahn, which coordinates various routes in Europe, did not see the economical profit for continuing these lines and decided to close most of them down. Less people use the night trains during winter and more during summer, so according to Igeland, the trains should at least be running during high peaks. But it’s not just the cost of having the lines running in each country, but also the taxes and track access fees, which air travel does not need to pay.
“For many years we have had a very good night train system in Europe, which makes it possible to travel long distances. For example, from Sweden to Barcelona it takes 36 hours, else it would take four days. If you take away the night trains, even more people would travel by airplane which is ten times more polluting”.
Friends of the Earth Sweden has been writing to the European Union Parliament members. Emails to the affected train companies have not got yet any response. But the environmental organization has started an email action campaign, which after only 10 days, it has reached 3000 email petitions sent to train operators around Europe.
Similar awareness has been raised around Europe by private passengers, which is now highlighted both by media and collected by the Swedish campaign. The “Save the night train” action has received interest even outside Europe. In the interview, Igeland tolds us that he was in a phone meeting with organizations from US which are curious about long distance transportation means that are more environmentally friendly.
Even if the night trains stop in December, this campaign will bring about a debate, which is important for the Climate meeting that will take place in Paris next year.
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