Train and EU flag

EUROPE: ‘2021 was an extremely challenging year for railways’, European rail industry bodies said in a joint message marking the formal end of the European Year of Rail.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic hit the sector hard, and its impact is still felt today with more than €50bn of cumulated losses’, said the February 21 statement from the Community of European Railway & Infrastructure Companies, new entrants association AllRail, freight forwarders group CLECAT, the European Passengers’ Federation, the Erasmus by Train initiative and the European Transport Workers’ Federation.

’Despite these difficulties, our associations have nonetheless supported the European Commission, with full commitment and passion, in the organisation of an important and varied calendar of European Year of Rail activities, with particular focus given to the important role of raising awareness for our mode of transport’, the statement read.

The organisations said their main focus had been on raising awareness to inspire behavioural change.

’Thanks to the European Year of Rail, European citizens are today more conscious of the sustainability credentials of railways. We believe that, reinforced by our commitment to the continuous improvement of the passenger experience, rail will become the backbone of transport, delivering Europe’s goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing air pollution, and relieving congestion.

’We now look forward to 2022, to build together upon the achievements of 2021 and to transform them into positive policy results on the very important dossiers currently debated by the EU institutions, from the revision of the TEN-T guidelines to the Fit for 55 legislative package and Action Plan to boost long-distance and cross border passenger rail services.’

Welcoming the European Year of Youth in 2022, they said ‘we will continue to draw public attention to how railways contribute to the building of a truly European identity’.