EUROPE: At a ceremony in Brussels on January 20, Swiss Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger was presented with the European Railway Award for 2009, to reflect his work in promoting environmentally-friendly transport policies. Presenting the political award on behalf of CER and Unife, European Commissioner for Transport Antonio Tajani said that Leuenberger’s 14 years in office made him Europe’s longest-serving transport minister, able to offer much advice and experience to his counterparts in the EU member states.

Admitting that the EU and Switzerland had not always been in agreement over restrictions on road transit traffic, Tajani said the ‘Swiss-vignette’ model of taxing heavy lorries to fund investment in rail infrastructure had proved a very successful experiment and the concept was now being adopted in neighbouring countries.

This year’s technical award went to Swedish signalling engineer Bengt Sterner, who was the chief architect of the European Rail Traffic Management System. Sterner chaired ERRI committee A200 in the 1990s which defined the original system and functional requirements specifications for ETCS before his retirement in 1999.