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More Germans would travel by train but it's too expensive, some residents say

A steam train drives through the 'Harz' forest at the 1,142-meter (3,743 feet) high Brocken mountain near Elend, Germany, Monday, Aug. 7, 2023.
A steam train drives through the 'Harz' forest at the 1,142-meter (3,743 feet) high Brocken mountain near Elend, Germany, Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. Copyright Matthias Schrader/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Matthias Schrader/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved
By Kristina Jovanovski with Rory Armstrong
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While some people prefer this mode of transport, experts have said that reducing tax breaks for airlines and subsidies was needed to make it more affordable.

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Erik Stiegemann’s love of trains started young when he worked at a model train store in Berlin. Now as a railway engineer, he’s choosing trains to go across the continent.

“An airliner seat just isn’t as comfortable and you don’t have the legroom you’ve got in a first-class train, the railway engineer and train enthusiast said. 

"I like the landscapes. It’s just more relaxed.” 

Kin Cheung/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
German resident Erik Stiegemann prefers to travel by train.Kin Cheung/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

He’s not the only one who feels this way. Germany’s national railway company Deutsche Bahn said there were record sales for long-distance transport this year.

This uptick means operators are adding new routes this year and next, with more direct trips connecting Germany to cities across Europe. More broadly, the European Union aims to double high-speed rail travel by 2030. 

But that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to be jumping on board. A study by Greenpeace compared prices between train and plane tickets for certain routes and found flying was cheaper more than 50 per cent of the time.

“It doesn’t make sense if you look at the goals," train travel analyst Bernhard Knierim told Euronews.

"You should subsidize the mode of transit that you want more of, not the one you actually want to reduce. 

This is not a level playing field where the different modes of transit can really compete with each other. And this is the reason why air travel is so cheap at the moment.”

Erik said price was an obstacle, despite his love and preference for the mode of transport.

“It’s just so energy efficient compared to flying and it’s also of course a motivation," he said. 

"Then again, it’s so expensive that I cannot omit flying completely, unfortunately.”

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