News 09 Dec 2020

New EU Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility gives pivotal role to rail

On 9 December, the European Commission published the EU Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, which will transform the EU transport sector to fully support the objectives of the EU ‘’Green Deal’’ and of ‘’A Europe fit for the digital age’’. The European rail sector, represented by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the Association of the European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM) and the Association of the European Rail Supply Industry (UNIFE), welcomes the timely adoption of the EU Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and supports its full and swift implementation.

Mobility’s essential role for the EU’s economy, society and sustainable development is fully acknowledged in the new Strategy, which aims to shape a transport sector capable of tackling the climate emergency and seizing the opportunities of modern technology. The aspect of resilience in transport is also duly highlighted as the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the urgent need for systemic transformation of our economy, based on principles of sustainability, innovation and resilience. The Strategy grants a prominent role to rail in the transition towards zero-emission mobility and in the achievement of climate neutrality by 2050. 

The key challenges for fostering decarbonisation and digitalisation in transport are well known and addressed in the Strategy through its set of flagship areas and accompanying milestones. They complement the 2011 Transport White Paper, whose ‘’modal shift’’ principle has been the cornerstone of European transport policy upon which the new Strategy stands. The rail sector now requests policy makers to fully implement the Strategy with no delay. 

CER, EIM and UNIFE share the Commission’s ambition and objectives for mobility. As stated in our ‘’Joint Statement’’ this June, we reaffirm our readiness to work together with the EU Institutions and Member States, ensuring that the rail sector contributes to the recovery of the EU economy and the wellbeing of European citizens. The European Year of Rail is an excellent opportunity to highlight the full potential of rail and increase its share in EU transport in line with the milestones announced in the Strategy. Doubling rail freight and tripling high-speed rail traffic by 2050 compared to 2015 require the completion of the comprehensive TEN-T Network, accompanied with a framework to enable smart and seamless mobility. Finally, in order to achieve a fair and just transition to sustainable mobility full internalisation of external costs by 2050 is key.

CER Executive Director Libor Lochman: “The milestones proposed by the Strategy will enable European railways to continuously evolve their role to be the driving force behind the next-generation mobility that is resilient, smart and sustainable.

EIM Executive Director Monika Heiming: “We welcome the very ambitious White Paper Transport of the EU Commission. It comes in support of a more sustainable transport mix with a strong focus on rail services. The new mobility masterplan takes a 360° view on all transport modes with rail and rail infrastructure at the heart of them.

UNIFE Director General Philippe Citroën ‘’Rail must become the backbone of a clean, safe, integrated and digital mobility system in the EU. The rail supply industry will commit to ensure the new Strategy enables this vision. Research & Innovation, through Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking’s successor programme – particularly regarding next generation rolling stock and ERTMS – will make rail stronger and better fit to tame global crisis such as the current pandemic’’.