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Hesse is making public transport free for all state employees, but tax watchdogs aren’t happy

From January next year state employees in Hesse will be able to travel through the entire state for free using trains, buses or trams. On Thursday the plan was criticized by a tax watchdog.

Hesse is making public transport free for all state employees, but tax watchdogs aren’t happy
Photo: DPA

At a cost of €51 million to the taxpayer, some 90,000 bureaucrats plus 45,000 contract workers and 10,000 trainees working for the state of Hesse will be able to use all public transport in the state without paying.

Each of the state workers will receive a Jobticket, a card which will protect them from the wrath of conductors.

The state government has claimed that the move is good for the environment.

“This is both an investment in the environment, we promise that the initiative will lead to lower emissions,” said Hesse’s interior minister Peter Beuth in August.

The public services union Ver.di now wants the project to be extended across the country, according to Die Welt.

But the Taxpayer’s Association criticized the initiative on Thursday, asking how it could be justified that school children had to pay for their ride to school, while their state-employed teachers could travel to work for free, Hessische Rundfunk reports.

“We reject any more privileges for public employees,” the Taxpayer’s Association told Die Welt.

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Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?

Several political parties in Germany have said they want to bring back sleeper trains in order to meet carbon emissions targets.

Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?
A sleeper train in Austria. Photo: dpa/APA | Georg Hochmuth

The Green party have said that they want to put state subsidies into night trains that will connect Germany with cities as far flung as St Petersburg in the north and Lisbon in the south.

According to the environmentalist party’s plans, 40 night rail lines could connect 200 destinations across the continent including islands like Mallorca, which would be linked in by train and ferry.

The Greens want the EU to buy a fleet of sleeper trains that could travel at speeds of between 200 km/h and 250 km/h.

The CDU have also announced plans to rebuild the country’s sleeper train services.

Deutsche Bahn stopped its last sleeper service in 2016 citing the high costs involved in maintaining its fleet that was not recuperated through ticket sales.

Earlier this year the state owned company said it had “no plans” to purchase new sleeper wagons.

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