Positions 14 Oct 2019

Commission study results suggest greater role for European railways

European railways comply with the principles of 'user pays' and 'polluter pays' better than any other motorised transport mode, both for passengers and freight. This is a key insight from the European Commission's recent study on transport cost internalisation. It shows that rail excels in covering its variable infrastructure costs and externalities like air pollution, CO2 and noise through charges, with smaller cost-coverage gaps in € per passenger-km or tonne-km than other modes. It also shows that rail's externalities are small in comparison with other modes, both for passengers and freight, suggesting a big role for rail in helping to reduce transport externalities. A shift to rail would benefit the environment and citizens in Europe. To achieve that, policymakers should create the right framework conditions for rail to flourish, including proper internalisation of transport's external costs, and help further develop the rail system itself, so that more persons and goods can move in a sustainable way.