If you read our recent piece on Easyjet axing Berlin-Warsaw, then the following bit of news will come as no surprise in the age of “flight shame”.
That piece hinted that Germany might be imposing higher aviation taxes and indeed that news is now confirmed.
Yesterday, Germany’s government announced a climate package. Aviation will be more highly taxed, but the tax rate for rail travel will fall.
Details of the new air taxes (which will probably mean an increase in departing taxes from Germany) have been made public, and will take effect from January 1, 2020.
It is unclear whether or not transit passengers will be exempt from Germany’s air taxes they are at present.
News concerning domestic rail travel is more positive. Unlike the UK (where rail travel is exempt from VAT) Germany imposes VAT of up to 19 per cent on train tickets. The new climate package means rail fares (for journeys of over 50 kms) will simply be lowered by cutting VAT to 7 per cent.
At the same time Deutsche Bahn (DB) will order an additional 30 high-speed (HS) trains to be delivered in 2022 providing an extra daily capacity of 13,000 seats.
Industry rail magazine IRJ says that in addition to the 74 HS trains already on order DB’s fleet will increase from 282 to 386 HS trains over the next three years.
DB’s CEO Dr Richard Lutz says that he will pass on the VAT reduction and “waive a price increase.” Presumably by “price increase” Dr Lutz refers to the next annual fares rise. No date has been given for the VAT cut but it will possibly be in the coming months.
However business travellers might prefer that DB improve ICE punctuality instead.
As we reported recently these HS trains still cannot meet their punctuality targets.
The ICE network is built around short connections across the network.
It means that a long journey, as one traveller discovered, might mean several en route changes which could mean “a fraught journey of frantic dashes, unexpected stops and missed connections.”
What about international fares to, from or through Germany?
It’s unlikely to be any savings for readers taking Eurostar and DB from London to Cologne or Dusseldorf as the distance from the border at Aachen is short.
At time of writing it’s unknown what the price effects will be for longer trips from London via Brussels to, for example, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich or Vienna.