German minister calls for lower tax on long-distance trains

Germany's transport minister is calling for a cut in tax on long-distance train travel to encourage more people to travel by rail and advance climate protection.

Andreas Scheuer told Wednesday's edition of mass-circulation daily Bild that value-added tax on long-distance train tickets should be cut from 19 percent to the reduced rate of 7 percent that is levied on many essential everyday items. He said that would save railway travelers up to 400 million euros ($452 million) per year.

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Railway journeys of up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) are already taxed at 7 percent.

The German government recently set up a "climate Cabinet" to coordinate efforts to combat climate change. Scheuer has been accused of being overly reluctant to take on the powerful auto industry and tackle car emissions.