EUROPE: A clear timescale for the decarbonisation of European transport and a greater role for rail are the key objectives of a ‘green mobility blueprint’ put forward by the Community of European Railway & Infrastructure Companies.

Formally endorsed by senior railway CEOs at the CER Management Committee meeting on July 10, the blueprint is intended as an input to the European Commission’s forthcoming Strategy on Sustainable & Smart Mobility, which is being developed as part of the EU Green Deal.

‘The European Green Deal is important for all of us, and the rail sector is committed to climate protection’, explained ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä, the current Chair of CER. ‘Individual transport must be shifted to rail. However, the key to climate protection lies above all in freight transport. Freight must be shifted significantly from road to rail in the future, and for this we need more Europe.’

In order to meet the political objective for all European transport to be carbon-neutral by 2050 at the latest, CER says ‘clear mid-term milestones’ need to be set for 2030 and 2040. The association is proposing four ‘general enablers’ which it believes would help to put rail at the centre of a carbon-neutral transport sector.

Firstly, there should be agreement on milestones for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from transport; CER proposes a target reduction of 25% on 1990 levels by 2030, 65% by 2040 and 100% by 2050.

Secondly, it wants to see the application of marginal social-cost pricing and the implementation of user-pays and polluter-pays principles for all modes.

Thirdly, CER believes that a pan-European deployment plan for rail freight digitalisation is needed to achieve a modal share of 30% by 2030, in line with the objectives set by the Rail Freight Forward coalition, ‘in order to neutralise the negative impact of the expected strong growth of the land-based transport market on environment and society’.

Finally, in the passenger sector, CER says policies should support ‘an enhanced digitalised purchasing and travel experience’ accessible to all passengers using both domestic and international services. It anticipates that rail should have a 15% market share by 2030 and 20% by 2050.

‘I am pleased that we managed to agree on a comprehensive input for the upcoming EU Strategy for Sustainable & Smart Mobility’, commented CER Executive Director Libor Lochman. ‘This document will be of pivotal importance as a guide towards more sustainable mobility in Europe. EU Heads of Government should also step up and show similar ambition regarding the Multiannual Financial Framework; investments must be re-oriented towards sustainable sectors and projects for a green recovery.’