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German climate protesters block VW train

August 14, 2019

Dozens of climate protesters tied themselves to a train track in front of a freight train to protest the German government's 'failed climate policy.'

Activists stop a train in Wolfsburg
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Marks

A group of environmental activists stopped a train loaded with 200 brand new Volkswagen (VW) cars in the northern city of Wolfsburg for several hours on Tuesday, in protest of the automotive industry's contribution to climate change.

Local police said that around three dozen activists participated in the protest, and several of them tied themselves to the tracks between the VW factory and a local station, forcing the train to stop on a bridge.

Read more: As Dieselgate scandal widens, will Germany finally tackle transport emissions?

About 15 officers responded to the incident, but initially saw no reason to take immediate measures against the activists.

According to German rail company Deutsche Bahn, as the train was on a feeder track leaving the VW factory in Wolfsburg, other rail traffic in the area was not affected by the blockade. 

A car transport train stopped on a bridge
The train was stopped on a bridge for several hours Tuesday afternoon Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Marks

Calls for a 'transport revolution'

A police spokesperson said the blockade was cleared in the evening and protesters who had abseiled from the bridge were collected by a police boat waiting in the canal below. Several activists were detained, but Wolfsburg police told news agency AFP a short time later that they had all been released.

According to the German press agency dpa, the activists said they were trying to delay the production process. VW said that the protest action had no effect on the production and distribution of vehicles.

Read more: VW, Ford cooperate on self-driving, electric car technology

One of the groups participating in the blockade said in a blog post that the protest was in response to the "failed climate policy" of the German government in regards to mobility and fostering a "transport revolution."

According to AFP, a handful of activists connected to the rail blockade were spending the night in a metal globe in the entrance hall of VW's headquarters. They planned to end their protest on Wednesday with a press conference.

In a statement, VW said that climate protection and sustainability were among the company's top priorities and that it regularly invited environmental organizations for discussions on sustainable mobility.

wmr/se (dpa, AFP)

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