EUROPE: Railway industry associations have signed memorandum of understanding to undertake a study into ‘Smart & Affordable High-Speed Services in the European Union’, in order to demonstrate the benefits of a ‘radical transformation’ of the rail network to provide high speed services linking all major continental cities
The MoU was signed at the Connecting Europe Days in Lyon on June 29 by the Community of European Railway & Infrastructure Companies, the AllRail alliance of new entrants to the passenger market, supply industry association UNIFE and the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking research programme.
The study will aim to identify the most significant benefits of completing a European high speed rail network connecting capitals and major cities, and demonstrate how accelerated investment in the rail network and services would support EU plans for zero-emission, sustainable and equitable transport.
‘Our Sustainable & Smart Mobility Strategy aims to double high speed rail traffic by 2030 and triple it by 2050’, commented Walter Goetz, Head of Cabinet for European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean. ‘I see a central role for rail in our future sustainable transport system, but rail must also fulfil its part in becoming a more attractive choice by getting more efficient, cost-effective and innovative.’
The signatories explained the study is intended to foster a ‘radical transformation’ of the rail system, to deliver on European Green Deal objectives and develop a fully operational, multimodal, sustainable and smart TEN-T network including high speed rail connectivity by 2050.
CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola believed that ‘this important study will show high speed rail’s potential to connect all continental EU capitals and major cities, as symbolised by the Connecting Europe Express in 2021, in a convenient and comfortable way, and the positive socio-economic benefits this will bring.
‘While a lot has been achieved so far with national success stories connecting among others Paris – Lyon, Milano – Roma, Barcelona – Madrid, and Berlin – München, much more is needed if the ambitious objectives of the European Green deal and Smart & Sustainable Mobility Strategy are to be met.’
AllRail Secretary General Nick Brooks said ‘we want to see high speed trains with large capacities — 1 000 seats each — connecting places around Europe on a frequent basis. This will lead to low fares and high revenue.
‘While other competing long distance transport modes are setting themselves net zero emission targets, rail can do it bigger and better. The outcomes of this study must enable high speed rail to become the backbone of long-distance travel in Europe.’
UNIFE Director General Philippe Citroën said ‘by demonstrating the major benefits of a European high speed rail network, the study will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable & Smart Mobility Strategy’, in alignment with the Trans-European Transport Network. ‘We look forward to our co-operation on this study to make this vision a reality.’
Carlo Borghini, Executive Director of Europe’s Rail, said ‘we are looking forward to starting our first research activities and presenting the first outcomes by the end of this year.’