European Rail Renaissance

Enabling decision makers in the European Commission and EU Member States to strengthen trans-European rail travel.


Favouring rail travel over air travel is a powerful means to reduce transport emissions. Yet, rail travel so far accounts for only eight per cent of passenger transport in the EU. The challenges are manifold: many cross-border links are non-operational, rolling stock lacks interoperable (night) trains, financial policies favour climate-damaging aviation, and passengers face complicated and expensive ticket purchase. To tap the climate action potential of increased rail services, the EU needs to improve its railway infrastructure, create pan-European connections, and make rail travel affordable and convenient.

Train in snowy mountains;

Train in snowy mountains; Photo: Johannes Hoffmann, Unsplash


Advancing this vision of a modern, accessible, and affordable rail system requires political backing by decision makers on both EU and national level. To achieve this, the project team aims to position rail travel as a priority issue of political discourse while also providing the necessary knowledge and arguments for its advancement. Activities mainly address representatives from Poland, Romania, Spain, France, and Germany, as their large surface areas and locations make them key to a well-connected rail system.

The European Rail Renaissance project team connects politicians, civil society organisations, political institutions, and rail industry representatives on both national and EU level with each other. Bringing them together enables the exchange of ideas and knowledge and raises awareness on the importance and benefits of modernising inter-European rail travel.

The project employs various formats. First workshops connect NGOs from different EU countries over potential, challenges and opportunities for European rail, such as open ticketing data, new night trains, synchronised timetables, and aviation pricing. Second, project members organise targeted inputs into policy processes, for example in the form of policy brief papers and consultations with the Commissions Directorate-General MOVE. Finally, project members raise public awareness on the issue through PR and media work, including press releases on policy processes, such as on the EU Rail Action Plan, accompanying tweets, background talks with journalists, and interviews on the Romanian National public radio. These measures constitute the basis for an informed exchange that enables decision makers to promote the modernisation of trans-European rail travel as a prime instrument for climate action.

Project information

Updated: February 2022

Countries: France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Spain

Project duration: 05/21 - 10/22

Funding: 308,206 €

Target groups: Civil Society, EU Institutions, Governments

Implementing organisation: Germanwatch e.V.

Partners: Association 2Celsius, Climate Action Network France, The Civil Affair Institute

Contact Person:

Mr Jacob Rohm


Germanwatch e.V.

Stresemannstr. 72
10963 Berlin




This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The EUKI call for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.


European Climate Initiative (EUKI)
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