The European Union has set itself the target to become climate neutral by 2050. Rail could play a key role in the future transport system because it is clean, safe and reliable, and it could become a symbol for the European Green Deal. A strengthened European rail system could (1) better connect people and businesses in Europe, (2) reduce transport emissions by creating alternative options to road transport and aviation, and (3) give a green boost to the European economy post-Covid-19.
Yet the European rail system is currently not in the best shape to take a central role in transport systems. In almost all EU member states, the importance of rail has declined over the last decades due to a heavy focus on road and aviation, and international rail services in particular are not sufficiently developed.
In the European Year of Rail 2021, the EU and national governments need to seize the opportunity to boost European rail services by
● launching new direct international services, day and night, on existing infrastructure,
● making booking of international services attractive and convenient and
● investing in cross-border infrastructure connections and key corridors.