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LIVE: 'Smart and Affordable High-Speed Services in the European Union' Press Event

LIVE: 'Smart and Affordable High-Speed Services in the European Union' Press Event
photo: ERJU/LIVE: 'Smart and Affordable High-Speed Services in the European Union' Press Event
23 / 01 / 2023

Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking, in collaboration with ALLRAIL, CER and UNIFE, have organised a press event dedicated to the key results of the 'Smart and Affordable High-Speed Services in the European Union' studies. It's a joint initiative by the four organisations launched via an MoU during the Connecting Europe Days launched last June, in presence of Walter Goetz, Head of the Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Transport, and covered widely in the international press. Follow the press conference online with us.

11:00 Catherine Cieczko, Chief of Stakeholder Relations and Dissemination at Europe's Rail Joint Undertaking, welcomes everyone present at the conference. Dorien Rookmaker will be introducing the event with her remarks. Carlo Borghini, ERJU, will lead the panel discussion with Nick Brooks, ALLRAIL, and Philippe Citroen, UNIFE. Alberto Mazzola, CER, will present the closing remarks.

11:05 Dorien Rookmaker, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, says HSR is a sustainable way of travelling that needs support to come alive. In 2021, she presented a similar plan to connect European cities.HSR is the safest way of travelling because of the low casualties rate and provides a sense of safety. HSR is a proof of economy booster. It creates jobs and more options for people when choosing careers. Public transport is available to all, making it a great equalizer. Investing in HSR is beneficial to all. The member states need to have things done. HSR contributes to prosperity and peace.

11:10 Carlo Borghini, ERJU, presents the study 'Smart and Affordable High-Speed Services in the European Union'. The purpose of the study is peace, prosperity and safety. The goal is to estimate the socio-economic impact. The competitiveness is shown in the framework of job creation and environmental impact. The study uses a methodological approach starting from the baseline (how much HSR network is currently in operation, which is 15.200km) and the target lengths (20.500 km in 2030, and 49.400 km by 2050). The study is being designed to calculate the demand based on the 'Demand-Shock' model (10 demand shocks applied to a business-as-usual baseline – new HSR infrastructure, ticket tax, coach market competition, car sharing). 

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The conclusion is HSR is an opportunity if we continue to invest in the passenger, and the environment, it has economic benefits that will outweigh the costs, and the shift in traffic will create welfare for society.

11:20 Carlo Borghini, ERJU: "What are the European conditions that have to be met to achieve the European high-speed network?"

Nick Brooks, ALLRAIL: "We support the growth of HSR, we want it to become a product for the masses. It needs to be affordable for all people. How do we do it? We need to make HS trains attractive. HSR should be accessible.

Alberto Mazzola, CER: The study has given the idea of how much money we need to invest. We need to win the confidence of travellers and passengers, and then, using that, we need to win the politicians and decision-makers. 

Philippe Citroen, UNIFE: We need to be sure when there's final approval of the TEN-T network, there's support from the Commission. If we want to have an HSN, we need to have a fully interoperable HSN and some transport policy established.

Joshua Posaner: There are several projects planned across Europe. Could each one of you choose one?

Philippe Citroen, UNIFE: It's difficult to make a choice because there are many ongoing ones now. It's remarkable how you can transform the geography of a country with high speed, so it's hard to choose one and I think we just need to invest in all.

Carlo Borghini, ERJU: I'd say the high-speed connection to the Western Balkans. 

Philippe Citroen, UNIFE: HSR is a very strong driver for the European supply industry.

11:35 Alberto Mazzola, CER: The convenience of rail is based on affordability and the duration of travel. If we compare many air connections, we find out that the statement that air travel is cheaper is not true. You can see that we can have very affordable services, it's very important. HSR is cheaper than aviation.

Nick Brooks, ALLRAIL: In Italy, the cost of high-speed lines is often lower than the local state lines, so we have a very good chance to compete with those.

Dorien Rookmaker: It is possible to have low-cost tickets for HSR. The main issue is that it has to be high-speed rail. We need HSR connections throughout Europe and if this condition is fulfilled, the other conditions will follow.

11:40 Nick Brooks, ALLRAIL: If I look at how much money we spend on roads in different countries, it's much more than high-speed rail. We need to move from less sustainable modes of transport. Every new road leads to more cars, so it doesn't really benefit society, so we need to return investments to the rail sector.

11:45 Philippe Citroen, UNIFE: As we are speaking about the future of the rail system, I think the work being done by authorities is essential. 

Carlo Borghini, ERJU: Connecting the community is the major issue that needs to be put forward. 

Alberto Mazzola, CER: On the point of member states, we hope that one by one, they will be convinced. Currently, we have 25 of them, and their commitment, the political commitment, is an important point.

11:50 Nick Brooks, ALLRAIL: I understand that in some countries, HSR doesn't turn out to be the greatest success. For example, in Spain, the HSL was built and for a couple of years, it didn't have big passengers and capacity numbers, but thanks to the 4th railway package, it's changed now.

11:52 Dorien Rookmaker: We have four big countries in Europe – Germany, Italy, France and Spain – that provide well for HSR. Now, we need to have an all-European high-speed connection and investments for their prosperity.

11:55 Alberto Mazzola, CER: I think we see many challenges here. This project is good for passengers, the economy, and the environment. What we are expecting is to find the political will, and we hope we can do it to go ahead.

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