The European Railway Summit: living up to citizens’ expectations?
In the plenary session “How to finance tomorrow’s rail system?” Anne Bringault from RAC France shared Europe on Rail’s thoughts regarding the urgent need to shift EU investments from highly polluting projects to low emissions projects, such as cross-border rail infrastructure, night trains or rolling stock for instance.
The summit, organized by French rail operator SNCF in the context of the French Presidency of the European Union, also saw the official launch of Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking. Described as “the most important rail R&I initiative ever”, according to the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel, Europe’s Rail aims to deliver an integrated European railway network of high capacity in a decade.
Innovation, digitalization and decarbonation were also on the agenda. Yet, despite the strong potential of this high-level event, its outcome was rather disappointing: many discussions but few commitments regarding modal shift, service improvements and demand-side management.
In order to develop a competitive, connected and inclusive European network, Europe on Rail suggests to build a joint multi-stakeholders vision of the European rail network with an ambitious modal shift scenario from polluting air and road transport towards clean rail mobility fully aligned with European climate policies.