European rail CEOs set course for EU green mobility with VP Timmermans

Land Transport

Source: CER , 2020-02-19

Meeting in Brussels on 19 February, Europe’s leading rail CEOs set the course for the EU’s shift to a sustainable mobility system together with European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans. The CEOs also elected ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä as the Chair of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) for a two-year period.

The European Green Deal, published by the European Commission in December, recognises the role of rail in greening European transport. European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans joined a high-level meeting of European rail CEOs, members of the CER Management Committee, to kick–start the co-operation. The rail sector reaffirmed its commitment to continue investing in safe, sustainable and customer-oriented passenger and freight services that contribute to emission-free mobility. Setting the right framework conditions is crucial to make the modal shift to rail a reality. 

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the CER General Assembly, where European Commission Director-General for Transport (DG MOVE) Henrik Hololei introduced the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, expected to be published before the end of the year. The CEOs responded by providing concrete examples of how they are further greening rail operations, today responsible for only 3% of all transport emissions, although rail carries 17% of inland freight and 8% of passengers in Europe.

In addition, a high-ranking panel including Elisabeth Werner (European Commission), Josef Doppelbauer (ERA), and Carlo Borghini (Shift2Rail) as well as sector representatives discussed different questions related to Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) of rail vehicles. Locomotives and wagons need to be fitted with DAC as a game changer for the comprehensive automation and digitalisation of rail freight transport. It will enable the deployment of ERTMS Level 3 resulting in increased infrastructure capacity; and it will ensure data communication throughout the entire train. DAC is therefore key to achieving efficient and competitive rail freight, which Europe needs to meet the demands of both climate protection and rising transport volumes. Along with a robust budget and a realistic migration plan, a sound deployment strategy for DAC must be developed by all involved actors.

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