Europe makes 2021 the Year of Rail

In order to support and promote railways as a sustainable mode of transport, the European Commission has proposed to make 2021 the Year of Rail. It plans a series of events, campaigns and initiatives next year.

This move will help the European Commission to highlight the benefits of railways for people, the economy and the climate and focus on the remaining challenges to create a true Single European Rail Area without borders. “There is no doubt that railway transport means huge benefits in most areas: sustainability, safety, even speed, once it’s organised and engineered according to 21st-century principles. But there’s also something more profound about railways: they connect the EU together not only in physical terms. Setting up a coherent and functional network across all of Europe is an exercise in political cohesion. The European Year of Rail is not a random event. It comes at an appropriate time when the EU needs this kind of collective undertaking,” said Commissioner for Transport Adina V─âlean. The Commission’s proposal on declaring 2021 the European Year of Rail now needs to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

Important year

At the same time, 2021 will be an important year for the rail sector. It will be the first full year in which the rules agreed under the Fourth Railway Package will be implemented throughout the EU. 2021 also marks several important anniversaries for rail: the 20th anniversary of the First Railway Package, the 175th anniversary of the first-ever rail link between two EU capitals (Paris-Brussels), as well as 40 years of TGV and 30 years of ICE. The international arts festival EUROPALIA has already chosen railways as their 2021 theme and will be an active contributor to the wide range of activities taking place throughout the European Year of Rail.

European Green Deal

In December 2019 the European Commission set out a European Green Deal for the EU and its citizens, with the goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The initiative provides several milestones for EU transport in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: by 25 per cent by 2030, by 65 per cent by 2040 and by 100 per cent by 2050. The last milestone means that the EU transport sector will become carbon-neutral.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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