Together, the German and the incoming Portuguese EU Council Presidency are working on strengthening rail transport and promote the European Year of Rail 2021.
On 1 December 2020, the MEPs of the Transport Committee also approved the trilogue agreement between the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission on the European Year of Rail 2021.
The Federal Minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer, said:
2021 will be the European Year of Rail. Rail makes Europe even more climate- and environment-friendly. During the last few months, we have initiated specific activities. With the Berlin Declaration, we are pushing ahead, among other things, with the digital ERTMS rail traffic management system as well as with the modernization of the freight wagon fleet. The keyword here is the Digital Automatic Coupling. In terms of passenger rail services, we are taking a genuine leap forward towards a kind of European clock-face timetable. We want to synchronize the regular interval timetables of the European railways, thus establishing direct rail links using the TransEuropeExpress 2.0 as a flagship. This would make rail travel a convincing alternative to intra-European flights and long hours on the motorway – by means of cross-border high-speed trains and night trains. For the next six months, Portugal will also focus on rail transport and continue to strengthen the rail mode.
Minister Pedro Nuno Santos said:
I firmly believe that railways will be the core of our future transport networks, as we strive to fight climate change and to bring people across all geographies of Europe closer together. Investment in the railways will also play a major part in our economic recovery, as an instrument for better social, cultural and economic cohesion as well as increased resilience. It will be our privilege to assume the EU Council Presidency during the first half of the European Year of Rail 2021 and continue the work we have already been making with our partners, especially with the German presidency that precedes us, on several important policy issues. But, beyond specific policies, we intend to make sure that the railways are put to work in improving people’s lives across the continent.”
With events, campaigns and initiatives, the European Year of Rail 2021 is to make the rail mode a more sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport. Other objectives of the European Year of Rail are to raise awareness of the cross-border, European dimension of rail transport and to increase the mode’s contribution to strengthening business, industry and society in the EU.