Many innovations and technologies have already seen the light through Shift2Rail. To encourage their market up-take, there need to be solid and convincing business cases designed since the beginning to demonstrate how the investment brings a clear return on investment socially and economically.
The success of the rail system convergence towards a seamless, safe, interoperable, sustainable and efficient network will depend on the capacity of the sector to reinvent itself, and on adequate policy decision to phase out obsolete systems, currently hindering the growth of rail market share. The competitiveness of the European rail industry and its excellence remain a key objective too.
The European year of Rail, and its flagship initiative the Connecting Europe Express brought the rail sector to the heart of EU transport policies
The Connecting Europe Express – a dedicated train that travelled across Europe in September and October, visiting 26 countries in 36 days – has been one of the major highlights of the Year. It truly lived up to its name, as it brought together national, regional and local authorities, society at large and the rail sector. It pushed more than 40 partners from the sector to join forces to set-up an unprecedented pan-European rail service – clearly showing that Europe is stronger together.
As quoted by European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, “the Connecting Europe Express illustrated very well the many obstacles that rail still needs to overcome to become the preferred mode of transport. The launch of Shift2Rail’s successor – Europe’s Rail – is therefore another major success story of the European Year of Rail. The new partnership will transform European railways into one system, which will enable faster and cheaper deployment of new technical and operational solutions. This should make rail services more flexible, more affordable, more reliable and very safe. At the same time, it will ensure rail is more environmentally friendly and more climate resilient.
It is a good sign that many new connections and services have been launched or announced this year, bringing more choice and travel options for passengers. To name just one example, a new trans-European night train now links Stockholm, Copenhagen and Berlin. In a similar vein, we have seen campaigns to boost rail freight kick-off across Europe. For example, in Germany, DB Cargo launched awareness campaign for rail freight, setting up green European Year of Rail-branded containers to promote rail freight in seven major German cities”.
The Executive Director of Europe’s Rail, Carlo Borghini, concludes: “the European Year of Rail has boosted the attention to the rail sector, and it is now the moment to capitalise on this momentum to deliver and make rail the mobility lifestyle of passengers, the transport choice of logistic”.