European actors of the rail and travel sector, rail industry, civil society and passengers associations call on European Institutions and Member states to take bold actions now to achieve a climate-friendly transport system by 2030. Their call was presented at the Connecting Europe Days in Lyon, by Europe on Rail on the Panel “Boosting Passenger Rail Transport” (15:00h-16:30h CET). 

The transport sector is so far the problem child of European climate action. Especially with aviation having almost no feasible solution on its hands, rail with its long tradition can ensure fast and comfortable climate-friendly, long-distance travel in Europe”, said Helena Fortea Colomé, from Europe on Rail, a network of think tanks and civil society organisations across Europe. “Rail can solve the dilemma of promoting mobility, a green economy and the climate-goals. For that, Commissioner Vălean now needs to shift substantial political and financial capital to rail.” 

The call includes a rail vision to be accomplished by 2030 in order to reach the EU’s Climate objective to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050. The statement is based on the following six objectives:

  1. Make rail the backbone of sustainable mobility.
  2. Ensure inclusiveness, competitiveness and affordability
  3. Guarantee connectedness, service levels and infrastructure quality. 
  4. Promote a green, inclusive, attractive, gender-balanced and qualified industry and jobs. 
  5. Ensure good governance, high quality, reliability and security. 
  6. Finance and invest in the future of rail. 

Ruben Sansom, Clean Mobility Coordinator for Generation Climate Europe, added: “Young Europeans are and will be most impacted by the climate crisis. At the same time, when you’re young you want to travel and connect around the continent. European and national politicians can make that possible and push for greater sustainability. They need to put rail first. For that, we need substantial financial and political investments and we need it now.” 

Today’s biggest challenge is to quickly decarbonize our economy and society in order to face the climate emergency. The transport sector is the problem case with regard to achieving climate goals. To get the European transport sector emissions on the 1.5°-track, we need to progress with a modal shift towards rail for medium and long-distance passenger travel. Strong and efficient coordination at the European level is also essential to work towards a collaborative rail-eco-system that provides affordable, inclusive, secure and green mobility for all European Citizens by 2030.

As far as passengers are concerned, Josef Schneider, Chairman of the European Passengers’ Federation pointed out that “passengers want to be able to move autonomously while opting for more sustainable solutions. With the upsurge of trips after the pandemic we see that we need a substantial shift to more climate-friendly modes and ways of travelling. Policy makers and investors should support that shift with substantial investments into rail infrastructure and services that fit the needs of all.” 

The joint statement has been signed by the following organisations:

Read the full European Rail Manifesto here.