Germany cuts fares for long-distance rail travel in response to climate crisis

Cheaper fares as Deutsche Bahn passes on to customers the government’s cut on VAT

Travellers taking trips of more than 50km on Deutsche Bahn’s Intercity Express trains can look forward to fare decreases of 10%. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

Fares for long-distance rail travel in Germany have dropped for the first time in 17 years, as climate protection measures aimed at making train travel more attractive came into effect with the new year.

Travellers taking trips of more than 50km (31 miles) on Deutsche Bahn’s Intercity Express trains can look forward to fare decreases of 10%.

The company is also cutting prices on special offers and additional services, such as transporting bicycles.

The trend in Germany stands in contrast to the situation in the UK, where millions of commuters face a 2.7% rise in ticket prices from 2 January.

The cheaper tickets are a result of Deutsche Bahn passing on to customers the government’s cut in value-added tax on rail travel, from 19% to 7%. The UK does not charge VAT on rail fares.

The company said it believed the price drop would bring in another 5 million passengers per year.

Germany’s main provider of rail services is a private company in which the state is the single shareholder. Plans to sell off up to 49.9% of the company to private providers were abandoned with the onset of the 2007-08 financial crisis.

Not all commuters in Germany will get cheaper fares in 2020. Fares for short-distance travel and public transport in regions such as Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, Brandenburg and the Rhineland are set to increase, the news agency dpa reported this week.

Fares for regional trains in the Bonn area are due to rise by 2.5%, while people in Berlin and Brandenburg face a 3.3% increase in the cost of tickets for bus, tram and subway travel. Public transport providers say the fare increases are due to rising wages and higher prices of diesel and electricity and were agreed before the government passed its climate protection measures. SOURCE

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