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Back to the Future: Rails are the main potential for transport

Back to the Future: Rails are the main potential for transport
photo: to the Future: Rails are the main potential for transport
24 / 03 / 2022

Rail transport paves the way for the transition from road transport thanks to its low greenhouse gas emissions (0.4%).

The Community of European Rail and Infrastructure Companies (CER) reports that rail transport emits nine times less CO2 than cars. It is also seven times more energy-efficient, accounting for 2% of total energy consumption in the EU while carrying 18% of freight and 8% of passengers among all modes of transport.

The EU supports the rail transport development initiative through funding and investment programs. For example, the Connecting Europe Facility will provide €18 billion for rail projects, which will finance at least 70 percent of the transport package to support the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), digitalization by implementing ERTMS and building infrastructure for alternative fuels. The fund also provides 300 billion euros to support the development of a greener and more connected Europe. Andrei Ciufu, the Head of Unit - Communications at UNIFE, said that "Member States need to allocate significant funding in operational programs to achieve these goals.

"The 'Fit-for-55' package of legislative proposals unveiled by the European Commission in July 2021 revises the EU's entire climate and energy framework to lower greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, for which rail transport plays an important role to achieve the EU's transport decarbonization objectives," said Ciufu during the Railway Days 2022 - Club Feroviar Investment Summit held in Bucharest on 22-24 March.

The Recovery & Resilience Facility will also give railroads 55 billion euros to invest in projects that are expected to be completed by 2026.

Alberto Mazzola, the Executive Director of CER said at the Railway Days 2022 that, to increase the rail transport share, "improved green traction is a must, using hydrogen, other alternative fuels, as well as improved hybrid solutions using these sources of power. The rolling stock shall be made more affordable by new vehicle designs for light trains as well as become more attractive and easier to adapt with modular interiors."

The initiative will support the development of a green rail system and the creation of a European high-capacity network for full integration, for European citizens and freight.

Europe's Rail, a program of research and innovation, will improve capacity and productivity while reducing costs and increasing the competitiveness of the rail industry in the EU. To this end, Europe's Rail Joint Undertaking "has launched the first round of calls for proposals, which is open to all eligible entities following Horizon Europe. The EU-Rail Call 2022 includes six projects which will benefit from a EUR 234 million EU contribution," said Javier Ibáñez de Yrigoyen, Seconded National Expert - Programme Manager at Europe's Rail JU.

The modal shift towards railroads is in line with the Fit-for-55 policy. It will significantly contribute not only to the development of a sustainable transport system in the EU but also to the atmospheric emissions reduction.