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EU: 2021 is the European Year of Rail

The European Commission, on January 1 launched the European Year of Rail 2021, with the aim to highlight the benefits of rail as a sustainable, smart and safe means of transport.

A variety of activities will put rail in the spotlight throughout 2021 across the continent, to encourage the use of rail by both citizens and businesses and to contribute to the EU Green Deal goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050.

The Commission has launched a new website to provide more information about the initiative and to highlight European Year of Rail activities.

“Our future mobility needs to be sustainable, safe, comfortable and affordable. Rail offers all of that and much more… Through a variety of actions, we will use this occasion to help rail realise its full potential,” European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said.

Commuters at the railway station of Karlsruhe, Germany © European Union 2020 – Source : EP

Rail in the EU

In the EU, rail is responsible for less than 0.5 present of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. This makes it one of the most sustainable forms of passenger and freight transport. Among other benefits, rail is also exceptionally safe and it connects people and businesses across the EU via the Trans-European Transport network (TEN-T).

Despite these advantages, only about 7 percent of passengers and 11 percent of goods travel by rail. The European Year of Rail will create momentum to help increase rail’s share of passenger and freight transport. This will cut the greenhouse gas emissions and pollution coming from EU transport significantly, making a huge contribution to the EU’s efforts under the European Green Deal.

Commuters at the railway station of Karlsruhe, Germany © European Union 2020 – Source : EP / Michel Christen

Meanwhile, the European Commission’s legislative agenda will reflect the European Year of Rail, with proposals on a new rail industrial partnership, better links for rail with other modes of transport, and making freight transport more sustainable overall, as outlined in the Commission’s recently adopted Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.

In addition, the Commission will present an action plan to boost passenger rail transport, as well as measures to improve capacity and to simplify ticketing across different transport modes to further increase the attractiveness of rail.

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  1. Neil Le Milliere Reply

    I’ve been championing the use of rail for both passengers and freight for decades with its slow demise being criminal whilst the “god” of personal transport has ruled so I’m extremely pleased to see this and hope it is very successful.

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