Dear President Mrs. von der Leyen, dear Commissioner Mrs. Vălean, ladies and gentlemen,
on Nov 26th, our metropa-delegation returned to Vienna from its first ground study that lead us to Bucharest for a few days. As reported, we planned this journey as the first part of a series to explore the situation of long-distance railway service in Europe and its neighbour regions. We’ve been supported in this by some illustrious partners and also many crowdfunders.
We took the direct train connection from Vienna to Bucharest, the D347 (Dacia Express). Knowing in advance that it takes 21 hours, you’re well prepared and it might be even fun. In fact, we were neither bored nor stressed, thanks to plenty of things to do and nice travel mates in the cabin.
Nevertheless, as soon as we were in Romania, we were constantly stunned why this train is so slow. From Vienna to Bucharest, it’s approx. 1000km. If you try to figure out the average speed of the whole journey, you’ll end up at… 50 km/h.
Do you think that this is worth of a European connection?
We don’t need to lay out where one could go with 20 hours on train. From Vienna, for example, this could be Malaga, Hammerfest, Edinburgh, Ankara.
And if we had a reasonable speed, Bucharest could be reached in 10 hours at most.
In contrary, the train went on walking pace at times, though there are many new tracks, everything electrified, and practically no other traffic. Border controls take a lot of time indeed (due to Austria's veto for Romania’s and Bulgaria’s entry to Schengen), but this does not fully explain the total duration of the trip.
How could anyone think of taking the train instead of the plane? We did, and our hopes are high that things will improve.
This is why we did this ground study, and we will continue. Because we think that borderless, sustainable and barrier free mobility is the key for the European integration process and the EU’s Green Deal.
Looking forward to your appreciated answers!