21 April 2010

Ash cloud prompts Parliament calls for better EU railways

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A volcanic ash cloud that has grounded flights across Europe has served to highlight the region's dependence on air travel and prompted calls for the European Union to develop a better and faster rail network

In a sometimes heated debate in the European Parliament on Tuesday (20 April), parliamentarians said the 27-country bloc had reacted too slowly to a crisis that had shown an urgent need to bring other forms of transport up to date.

The ash cloud had caused travel chaos in Europe as travellers sought alternative ways to reach their destination.

"Member states should finally learn a lesson from what has happened," centre-right MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu, a member of the Parliament's transport committee, told the assembly in the French city of Strasbourg.

"The modernisation of our railway transportation is a priority. We talk a lot about it but don't do much. In Europe today you can't buy a train ticket to travel in a civilised way from the north of Europe to the south of Europe."

Rail travellers often complain they have to buy tickets for each stage of their journey if travelling between European countries, that it is hard to find clear information about international links and that the cost is often prohibitive.

(EurActiv)

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