ERFA hails EC’s proposal for 2021 as the Year of European Rail

Posted: 10 March 2020 | | No comments yet

Following the EC’s proposal that 2021 should be the European Year of Rail, the European Rail Freight Association has welcomed the proposition due to the positive implications for rail freight.

ERFA hails 2021 as the Year of European Rail EC proposal

The European Rail Freight Association (ERFA) has welcomed the European Commission’s (EC) proposal to make 2021 the European Year of Rail, believing that the proposition would serve as an opportunity to deliver a legal framework that meets the needs of rail freight.

President of ERFA, Dirk Stahl, said: “ERFA strongly supports the European Commission proposal to designate 2021 as the European Year of Rail. Rail has a critical role to play in ensuring that Europe can meet its 2050 objective of net-zero carbon emissions. The European Year of Rail must serve as the opportunity to finally begin work towards the creation of a competitive single European railway area that meets the needs of the rail freight industry.”

Additionally, ERFA believes that the proposal is well aligned with the EC’s proposed ‘Climate Law’ – which suggested setting a binding target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – making it impossible to achieve the objective if transport emissions are not addressed.

In 2017, transport contributed 27 per cent to the total greenhouse gas emissions, with railways accounting for 0.5 per cent of these emissions. This clearly emphasises that train travel is the best means by which to bring EU transport emissions under control, and modal shift is, therefore, essential.

Conor Feighan, ERFA‘s Secretary General, said: “The proposed European Year of Rail is well timed, given that 2021 will be an important moment for the future of rail freight. 2021 will see the tabling of some key legal texts, such as the revision of the Rail Freight Corridors Regulation, which will play a pivotal role in determining whether rail freight can reach its true potential. ERFA is ready to contribute to the European Year of Rail in whatever way possible. The European Year of Rail should signal a new ambition for a European Single Railway Area and a departure from various national approaches and business as usual.”

In order to successfully achieve a modal shift, particularly in relation to freight, an ambitious revision of the existing legal framework and financial mechanisms are required. By making 2021 the European Year of Rail, it should serve as the moment to highlight the benefits of rail, but also to transparently discuss how the sector can further contribute to Europe’s economic and climate related goals.