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Tee 2.0 was signed at the third railway summit

Tee 2.0 was signed at the third railway summit
photo: Archives/Railway
25 / 05 / 2021

An agreement on the continuation of plans to build a European network of high-speed day and night intercity services was reached on 17 May, when European transport ministers signed a memorandum of intent for trans-Europ-Express 2.0 at the third railway summit organized by the German Ministry of Transport. This time the summit was hosted by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Technology of the German Federal Republic.

The Memorandum of Intent was the focus of the summit, which aimed to assess progress since germany's second railway summit on 30 June 2020. It presented initial presentations of plans for the German national regular timetable Deutschlandtakt and a revival of the TEE concept.

The theme of this year's summit was 'Deutschlandtakt meetsEuropatakt', proposals for priorities for current developments in German operations and a consensus plan for high quality international passenger transport at regular intervals under the TEE 2.0 brand were announced.

In his introduction, Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer noted how resilient the railway operation was during the pandemic, predicting that "there will be a time when people will travel more." After months of not am possible to travel, "every trip becomes something special," he said.

Germany lies at the heart of europe's rail network and runs six European corridors, Scheuer stressed. He said that the concept of high-speed day and night services with a regular interval, which was outlined last year, has received support from many European states, and there is also support for a digital booking platform. The European Commission has been approached to support a programme to improve cross-border services.

TEE 2.0 was "the basis of a connected and synchronized European timetable" he suggested. The criteria for qualifying services for TEE 2.0 status include routes between at least three states or between two states over a distance of at least 600 km; trains had to operate at least 160 km/h for a significant part of the route and reach an average minimum cruising speed of 100 km/h. A specified level of travel comfort and catering would be required. Scheuer anticipated that the program would be gradually implemented within 20 years, starting this year.

Concerning TEE 2.0 night services, routes including Vienna - Munich - Paris and Zurich - Amsterdam will be feasible from December 2021, with Wien - Berlin - Brussels - Paris to follow in 2023 and Zürich - Barcelona in 2024.

Commitment from the highest levels

In a video call at the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed the national commitment to rail transport, with up to €5 billion available under the 2030 climate change programme only. Agreements to strengthen international services such as Berlin- Prague - Vienna have pointed to progress in tackling climate change, she said, while European transport ministers' plans for TEE 2.0 services and the expansion of high-speed and night services represent "a good step towards united European rail area ". Merkel thanked all those who contributed to ensuring rail transport during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the start of the summit as an 'excellent contribution to the European Year of Railways', European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized in her message how important it was for the railways to emerge from the pandemic in a stronger form 'in order to build dynamism and a competitive rail market. We need rail as a sustainable mode of transport more than ever to achieve the objectives of our European green trade," she said. Now is the time to restore confidence in public transport services: "I would like to see full trains again," she said.

She also recalled that high-speed passenger transport must double by 2030 and triple by 2050 if Europe's strategic climate targets are to be achieved, reminding delegates of the need to increase rail freight transport by 50% by 2030 and double it by 2050. It insists that action and political will in individual Member States are essential to addressing these challenges.

To achieve these targets, von der Leyen promised that the Commission would present an action plan later this year to promote long-distance passenger rail transport. The Commission would also look at measures to facilitate new night passenger transport, which it said had 'enormous potential' to get more rail passengers.