Europe on Rail

Promoting sustainable mobility in Europe by fostering rail transport.

Climate-Neutral Mobility


Project info


France, Germany, Poland, Spain

Project duration:

08/20 - 02/21

Target groups:



167,050.00 €

Contact info



Implementing organisation


  • Ecology and Development Foundation (ECODES)
  • European Federation for Transport and Environment
  • France Nature Environnement
  • INSPRO - Institute of Civil Affairs Foundation


In the transport sector far-reaching changes are necessary to meet the EU climate targets. Rail transport plays a major role in mobility transition as it can replace a vast number of flights in a more environmentally friendly manner, especially so in Europe. However, in the past decades many long-distance train services including night trains were discontinued. As major railway connections between EU member states are rare, travelling by train is generally not a suitable alternative to long-distance passenger transport. Against this background, clear political guidelines and concrete policy initiatives are needed to foster European rail transport.

In 2020/21 there were and are special political opportunities to foster rail transport in a sustainable manner: the European Commission presented its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy which is going to shape EU transport policy for the next decade. In September 2020 the EU Rail Summit took place at which the transport ministers of the EU Member States and representatives of railway companies discussed sustainable European rail transport. 2021 was designated as the European Year of Rail, in the course of which the EU will specifically promote railways as a mode of transport and specifically foster their use by citizens.

Frankfurter Bhf
Der Frankfurter Hauptbahnhof, Photo: ©Markus Winkler | Unsplash


The project has published an EU Policy Paper on the European Year of Rail. It outlines the main challenges posed by cross-border railway passenger transport and contains policy recommendations for EU policy makers. Four national policy papers address policy makers. They illustrate cross-border railway passenger transport in Poland, France, Germany and Spain and include policy recommendations.

To participate in public consultations on the EU Sustainable Mobility Strategy, the project prepared a guide with optional answers as well as a position paper to be disseminated via various networks. The wider public was thus informed about progressive stances on railway transport, and the participation of civil society was promoted. Furthermore, at two internal workshops, Germanwatch and its partner organisations have developed a strategy to ensure the involvement of civil society in the longer term.

Policy makers, railway companies and representatives of civil society were addressed at three national workshops in Poland, Germany and Spain. The aim was to garner support for better cross-border rail transport and to encourage progressive stakeholders to act. An EU policy workshop was held with the aim of building alliances among the key actors to improve cross-border railway transport.

Last update: April 2024

More about this project

Blog posts