Germany OKs cheaper train tickets in plan to lower emissions

Germany's upper house of parliament has approved a plan to cut value-added tax on train tickets about 10% beginning on Jan. 1

BERLIN -- Germany's upper house of parliament has approved a plan to make rail travel cheaper as part of a package of measures to combat climate change.

The decision Friday by the chamber representing Germany's 16 states will reduce value-added tax on train tickets, making them about 10% cheaper starting Jan. 1.

The German government hopes that cutting rail prices will encourage more people to use trains, thereby helping reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Rail travel in Germany, where much of the track is electrified, produces significantly less carbon dioxide per passenger kilometer (mile) than conventional road transport. The country has a well-developed rail network with high-speed connections between most major cities and to neighboring countries.

Deutsche Bahn, the main rail operator in Germany, expects passenger numbers to increase by 5 million a year as a result of the VAT cut.

Responding to concerns about overcrowding on its trains, the company is investing more than 12 billion euros ($13.3 billion) to expand and modernize its rolling stock in the coming years.

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