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Rail Manifesto: Unpacking CER’s Vision for European Railways' Ambitions in 'On Track for Europe'

Rail Manifesto: Unpacking CER’s Vision for European Railways' Ambitions in 'On Track for Europe'
photo: / Public domain/Rail freight
18 / 04 / 2024

As the Community for European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) has finally unveiled its highly anticipated manifesto, "On Track for Europe," RAILTARGET presents you with the first article from the series of detailed overviews of CER's policy agenda for 2024-2029 aimed to influence the trajectory of European railways. Today's coverage kicks off with an close look at the "Railways’ ambitions" segment of the manifesto.

As the railway community is on its way to achieving sustainable transport across the continent, the manifesto details ambitious initiatives aimed at maximizing the rail network’s performance and sustainability, positioning it at the forefront of Europe’s green and digital transitions.

The manifesto articulates a compelling vision for the future of rail transport in Europe, structured around four key pillars designed to foster a comprehensive and sustainable modal shift.

  • The first pillar calls for adequate and equitable financing of the rail sector, advocating for increased budget allocations under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the innovative use of financial instruments such as EU Green Bonds.
  • The second pillar focuses on ensuring fair competition between transport modes. It highlights the current regulatory disparities that unfairly benefit road and aviation sectors and calls for reforms in energy taxation, VAT application, and social conditions to eliminate these biases and level the playing field.
  • The third pillar emphasizes the urgent need to deploy key digital enablers like the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC), and Digital Capacity Management (DCM) identified as game changers that could significantly increase the efficiency and capacity of the rail network.
  • The fourth pillar advocates for a greener approach to market and competition policies, urging the European Union to more closely align its state aid and competition frameworks with its climate goals.

The manifesto outlines a multi-faceted approach to revolutionizing both passenger and freight services. For passengers, CER aims to vastly improve service quality by extending high-speed rail connections between major cities, thereby offering a compelling alternative to air and private road travel. This expansion seeks to dramatically decrease CO2 emissions and reduce urban congestion. On the freight side, CER proposes a significant increase in digital rail logistics capabilities, integrating with other modes to boost efficiency and capacity. The envisioned deployment of technologies like ERTMS, DAC, and DCM, mentioned as the third pillar, aims to increase network capacity by over 30%.

Together, these pillars aim to enhance the rail network’s capacity and efficiency and ensure that it plays a pivotal role in Europe’s ecological and economic future, making rail transport a more attractive and viable option for both passengers and freight.

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