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Rail Manifesto: CER Charts a Greener, More Resilient Path for European Transport

Rail Manifesto: CER Charts a Greener, More Resilient Path for European Transport
photo: CER / Public domain/CER presents Rail Manifesto in the European Parliament
23 / 04 / 2024

Shortly before the upcoming EU elections, the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) presented its Rail Manifesto for the period 2024-2029, entitled "On Track for Europe." Today, RAILTARGET explores key arguments from the manifesto, explaining why rail is indispensable for Europe’s green transition, societal resilience, and economic innovation.

The CER manifesto underscores three main reasons for prioritizing rail: its critical role in completing Europe’s green transition, its resilience in bolstering the EU's societal and economic structure, and its capability to foster greener, digitally integrated economic ecosystems.

Rail's environmental credentials are particularly compelling; it is positioned as the most sustainable mode of transport with a significantly lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emission profile. Since 1990, rail has not only reduced its GHG emissions but also managed to increase traffic volumes—rail carried about 11.5% of freight and 5.5% of passengers of all intra-EU transport modes in 2020. With 81.6% of rail train kilometers run using electric propulsion and 57% of the EU rail network electrified, the sector is poised to operate entirely on renewable energy, offering carbon-free transportation services.

Furthermore, the manifesto details how railways provide resilience during crises, illustrated by their response to geopolitical events such as the Russian war in Ukraine, where railways played a crucial role in evacuating refugees and maintaining essential trade routes. The energy efficiency of rail became a strategic advantage as Europe struggled with soaring energy prices, with natural gas prices peaking at EUR 44/MWh and electricity at EUR 107/MWh in August 2022. In such times, rail's lower energy consumption per passenger or ton-mile proved vital, underpinning its role in maintaining sustainable mobility under strained conditions.

The manifesto also highlights rail’s financial absorption capacity, noting that in the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) framework, Member States have already allocated around EUR 55 billion to rail projects, surpassing the mandatory investment targets for green projects. This investment supports rail infrastructure and advances the sector's contribution to the EU's green and digital transitions.

Stay tuned with RAILTARGET for the following articles from our series of CER's Manifesto detailed overview.