Rail is already one of the cleanest transport modes. A renaissance of a truly European rail network could not only make a major contribution to achieving the European Union’s climate targets but could also make Europeans feel and live European integration in daily life. Yet, decades of political focus on road and air travel as well as nationalist thinking have led to a patchwork of national rail systems, which are sometimes in very poor shape. Cross-border rail transport is the sore spot of the European transport system.
In order to turn rail into the backbone of Europe’s future transport system, the EU should create a dense network of rail services across Europe, revise transport taxes and infrastructure charges to create the right price signals, and make rail travel more convenient for passengers. This would improve domestic and international rail services and incentivise a modal shift away from road and air travel. A revival of long-distance international day and night trains could become a flagship project of the EU, and become a symbol of a renaissance of rail.
This policy paper presents eight measures to start off the European rail renaissance:
- Start a European investment initiative for strengthening rail infrastructure and closing missing links
- Make more efficient use of existing infrastructure
- Support the launch of international services
- Improve coordination and planning of international services
- Make transport taxes fair
- Make infrastructure charges fair
- Allow for one-stop booking platforms
- Guarantee passenger rights along the entire travel chain