UNIFE blames the EU for ‘exclusion of the rail sector’

courtesy of European Railways Agency

UNIFE, the association of Europe’s rail supply companies, has expressed its disappointment towards the European policymakers about what it calls: the exclusion of the European mobility network and their contribution towards the EU Green deal. The European year of Rail will be launched in 2021 and according to UNIFE, the EU hasn’t placed the rail sector on the political agenda. 

“Without the decarbonization of transport, the climate-neutrality target of the Green Deal will never be reached”, says UNIFE in a recently published statement. “Rail transport has proven to reduce CO2 emissions, increase passenger and freight numbers while being energy efficient. The most carbon-efficient mode of transport is Rail. The Green Deal won’t be successful without placing the rail industry in the EU transport Policy.”

EU talks and no action

UNIFE’s presiding board protests against some recent decisions of the European institution which appear to contradict to its political objectives. Starting with excluding the rail industry from the Green Deal Call under Horizon 2020. And furthermore a proposal to reduce the EU subsidy to be granted to the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) for the year 2021 was made at the end of July. At the same time, the EU recognized that the role of the Agency would be extended with the entry into force of the Fourth Railway Package technical pillar.

The European Commission also selected 50 organizations to be part of the new EU Platform on Sustainable Finance. Surprisingly, all six rail sector applications that were submitted were excluded. The European Year of Rail will be launched in less than ten weeks but the rail industry feels like it is placed on the side. UNIFE asks the European Institutions to bring consistency between their words and actions.

Key Initiatives

UNIFE believes that for the Green Deal to reach its objectives there needs to be a shift of 75 per cent of the freight carried on the road onto rail and inland waterways. “The European Commission should dedicate more investment for the rail industry with EU funding programs targeting ERTMS deployment, energy-efficiency and zero-emission rolling stock.”

A proposal for a Shift2Rail-2 Program with a 1.5 billion euro contribution under Horizon Europe should be made, states UNIFE. “The rail industry has been dedicating towards the innovation of products and a decrease of the overall lifecycle of most railway systems. To stay at the forefront of the green and digitalization more financial support would be needed.”


Besides wanting to play a part in achieving climate goals, UNIFE is also seeking support from the European Union for the protection of its members against railway supply companies from outside the union. Or at least create a level playing field. “There is great competition from other non-EU manufacturers and protecting the EU rail industry is important. The adoption of the International Procurement Instrument (IPI) can also help tackle the access of foreign State-owned companies.”

Author: Sarah Chebaro

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