BRUSSELS, 22nd February 2023: Searching and buying tickets for trips combining different means of transport is difficult in the EU. That is why the upcoming proposal on Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) must better integrate ground public transport and rail services to achieve seamless multimodal passenger transport, delivering on the CO2 reduction goals in the EU Green Deal.
Therefore, it is astonishing that the least sustainable transport mode – aviation – is not only involved, but it is driving the agenda. Not only that: the first multimodal products primarily serve The Wealthy. MDMS urgently needs to reconsider its purpose and who it is meant to serve.
Last week, the German state rail incumbent DB and the German legacy airline Lufthansa celebrated their “Lufthansa Express Rail” concept, with DB trains bringing passengers to Lufthansa’s airports in Germany. There are similar arrangements elsewhere in Europe. Sometimes, we even get the impression that such Rail & Fly cooperations are deliberately being portrayed as ‘The’ solution to multimodality.
But this makes little sense:
- Firstly, is it not the goal of EU transport policy to encourage more travellers to take the train over longer distances?! – So why are we making it easier to fly?
- Secondly, while it is welcome if passengers for intercontinental flights take the trains to the airport (rather than a feeder flight), this helps just a small group of people – global travellers – rather than the bulk of European society.
- Last but not least, when rail incumbents and legacy airlines cooperate, then it is often not a cheap fare. Such products are mostly for wealthier customers.
Thus, the non-profit associations mofair and ALLRAIL call for an urgent refocus of the entire MDMS initiative. Top Priority must be door-to-door ground transportation for journeys across border within the EU, with rail as the backbone of longer journeys.
Multimodality must become attractive and affordable, targeted at average EU citizens – “the Masses” – so a large bulk of European society is enticed away from the convenience of the private car to sustainable ground public transport. Finally, people should be able to go to one digital platform to search and buy tickets from any address to any address in the EU. While this is still not possible, how can multimodal bookings from Europe to New York or Hong Kong be more important?!