European railways highlight key priorities for sustainable and smart mobility

The European Commission should pay more attention to the rail sector in developing the forthcoming ‘Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility’. To this end, three umbrella organisations CER, EIM and UNIFE have published the joint statement where they highlighted several important priorities to be included in the future strategy.

For this autumn, the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) of the European Commission has scheduled to unveil the ‘Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility’, which is currently being developed. Therefore, the entire European transport sector, including railways, is certainly looking forward with immense excitement. While there is still time to improve the draft document, the umbrella organisations of European railways decided to present the industry’s views, expectations and priorities for DG MOVE’s forthcoming ‘Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy’.

The joint statement on behalf of European rail sector was published by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the Association of the European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM) and the Association of the European Rail Supply Industry (UNIFE). “It is crucial for Europe to have a strong, future oriented mobility strategy that places green transport such as rail at its heart,” said EIM Executive Director Monika Heiming.

European Green Deal

“Europe’s rail sector has pledged to reduce total CO2 emissions for passenger and freight transport by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. As the greenest mode of transport, rail is part of the solution to decarbonise transport, therefore enabling the fulfilment of the climate-neutrality ambition by 2050,” the joint statement of CER, EIM and UNIFE reads. This ambitious goal was set in accordance with the European Green Deal. As a result, several priorities mentioned in the joint statement are related to this environmental policy:

  • the creation of a seamless and frictionless single European transport area;
  • implementing the principle of ‘polluter pays’ and ’modal shift’ towards sustainable modes of transport including railways;
  • financial and legislative support of only zero-emission vehicles (all modes considered) and their related infrastructure.

“Building on their strong environmental credentials railways must be empowered to fully play their role as the backbone of a digitalised and seamless multimodal system in the forthcoming strategy for sustainable and smart mobility,” CER Executive Director Libor Lochman commented.

Focus on certain trends

“The strategy should acknowledge certain trends which, during the last decade, have come to play a significant role in the transport sector. The importance of research & innovation, digitalisation and multimodality has risen in shaping a different economic, social and technological landscape for mobility,” CER, EIM and UNIFE declared in the published paper. Therefore, the umbrella railway organisations called the European Commission to continue its financial support of the research activities provided by the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking. “The strategy should support the continuation of Shift2Rail within Horizon Europe 2021-2027, with a strong budget,” the document reads.

Two other priorities are digitalisation and multimodality. As for the first point, the umbrella railway organisations call for adoption of a regulatory framework that will enable faster implementing of the digital technologies. In terms of multimodality, railways should become the system integrator of a seamless mobility chain. “Rail is entirely part of the solution needed to fulfil the Green Deal’s climate neutrality ambitions. European rail manufacturers are committed to making rail the backbone of a sustainable and smart mobility system, supported by digitalisation and Research & Innovation,” UNIFE Director General Philippe Citroën stressed.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

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

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