33 railway companies from 24 European countries signed a pact to that end during the European Railway Summit in Paris on Monday. With the ‘European Railway Pact‘, the companies als commit to reducing the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The 33, consisting of infrastructure managers and passenger and freight operators, committed to reduce train-related greenhouse gas emissions with 30% by 2030 compared to 2015 levels, RailTech reports.
Energy efficiency should be increased by 25 per cent and rail should be carbon neutral by 2050, in line with the European Union’s aim. Another ambition is to ‘significantly increase’ the recycling rate of railway equipment by 2030. By how much remains unclear.
2021, European Year of Rail
The European Railway Summit in Paris marked the formal end of the European Year of Rail in 2021. That themed year wasn’t the success some hoped it to be. It “failed to gain traction”, RailTech describes it. A railway pun? Who knows.
Amongst others, were represented
- Deutsche Bahn (DB) from Germany;
- NMBS / SNCB from Belgium;
- SBB-CFF-FFS from Switzerland;
- SNCF from France;
- NS from the Netherlands;
- ÖBB from Austria;
- DSB from Denmark;
- VR from Finland;
- MÁV from Hungary;
- FS from Italy;
- CFL from Luxembourg;
- CP from Portugal;
- SŽ from Slovenia;
They all signed the pact.
Improved customer experience
The signatories say they “share the responsible principle that railways must play a priority role in the fight against climate change, and are therefore making a real commitment to developing the rail sector across Europe.”
They acknowledge the importance of a good customer experience. “From reservations to passenger information in real time thanks to digital technologies, as well as for international rail services, including night trains, we need to do better to make the train a more attractive means of transport.”
Investment, not cost
The fight for the protection of the planet and against climate change is not a cost but an investment, the railway companies say. They emphasize that new (financial) resources are therefore needed to better finance the railway system and public transport in general.
“Funds are needed to invest heavily in the modernisation of railway networks, to increase their capacity and interoperability, to support operators in the modernisation of their rolling stock”, they state in the pact.
Finally, the companies call on the Member States and the European Union to promote fairer competition rules between all modes of transport, including the positive and negative external factors of each.
There’s a big “yes, but” here. As Frédéric de Kemmeter from Mediarail pointed out in a guest op-ed on RailTech, railway operators are not too keen to share. Even with existing infrastructure and rolling stock, more international train and more customer friendly train travel is possible.
It’s a question of will(power).
And yes, investments are necessary. But both the many layers of government and the operators must show willingness to improve train travel for freight, for commuters and for travellers and tourists.
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