INNOTRANS: ‘Rail is a growing sector, which can help Europe meet its Green Deal targets’, emphasised EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean at the opening ceremony for InnoTrans 2022 in Berlin on September 20.

Enthusing that it was ‘a real pleasure to see all the innovations that will revolutionise the way we get around’, she reiterated the importance in investment in both infrastructure and rolling stock to make railways a more attractive alternative to cars and aviation.

She looked forward to the prospect of a pan-European high speed network connecting all the member state capitals, which could reduce the 750 km trip between Brussels and Berlin to around 3 h.

Pointing to the poor condition of railways in many parts of the EU as a result of past under-investment, Valean said modernisation and updating were essential to harness the benefits of the most sustainable mode of transport. Funding was available from the EU’s post-Covid recovery and resilience fund, as well as the Connecting Europe Facility, but she said member states needed to do more in terms of adopting international legislation and opening up their rail markets to encourage competition and attract more private sector investment.

Reiterating the challenges of achieving net zero over the next 25 years, Valean concluded that the prospects for rail were still bright, despite the current economic crisis, inflation and energy concerns. Calling for a partnership between decision-makers, railway operators and suppliers, she emphasised that ‘the Commission cannot achieve the second golden age of rail alone’.