Reduce taxes for train rides – from # 19to7 Percent!

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I had to get off the train. Today I want to make sure that more people get on! My name is Joachim Holstein, and I was a night steward at Deutsche Bahn for more than 20 years. Two and a half years ago the Deutsche Bahn stopped its night trains. My 500 colleagues and I lost our jobs, although ÖBB took over half of the night trains. Der Spiegel reported on my last trip. 

Together with the passengers, we wanted to save the night trains. We organized demos, talked to members of parliament, and I sat as an expert on the Transport Committee of the German parliament (Bundestag). We protested - and continue to protest together with the networks "Back on Track" and "Stay Grounded" - against the discrimination of environmentally friendly rail travel against air travel in VAT and energy taxes. Politicians have not changed anything so far. 

I want more people to be able to travel by train, I want rail travel to be cheaper - and I want the aviation industry to pay a fair price. It is absolutely urgent. The climate crisis is currently the greatest danger and the transport sector is responsible for a large proportion of emissions. Instead of promoting the switch from air travel to environmentally friendly rail travel, Germany taxes travel on climate-friendly long-distance trains at 19 percent, even on international journeys. Aircraft, on the other hand, are not subject to kerosene tax, and international flights are exempt from VAT. 19 of the 26 EU countries with rail traffic have exempted international rail tickets from value-added tax, while four others only collect the reduced tax rate. Germany is one of the three inglorious exceptions and collects the full VAT; with some foreign tickets this tax is higher than the price of a cheap flight!  It can't go on like this! We need "trains not planes".

I demand from Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz:

Reduce the VAT for long-distance train tickets from 19 to 7 percent, for international journeys to 0 percent! Take the strain off the climate and rail customers! Tax environmentally harmful flying instead!

Please support me in my concern,

your Joachim Holstein

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Photo: Jean-Pierre Ziegler/Spiegel Online