Marleen van de Kerkhof - Vivianne Heijnen - Oscar Vermeij

NETHERLANDS: A delegation of young rail ambassadors has presented a report to Environment & Water Management Secretary Vivianne Heijnen outlining their experience of being part of the EU’s European Year of Youth and making recommendations on how to inspire and attract new talent to the rail industry.

The rail ambassadors were led by Marleen van de Kerkhof, International Affairs Manager at Dual Inventive, on behalf of Railforum and Jonge Veranderaars, and Oscar Vermeij representing Rail Cargo Information Netherlands.

They handed over a report entitled The future is ours!, in which they shared their findings on the image of the rail sector as well as diversity, demographics, sustainability and innovation

The report says the rail sector has an unjustifiably outdated image among young people, and that rail’s ‘sustainable and innovative nature’ should be prioritised among young people in general, and women in particular.

Partly thanks to digitalisation, challenging and meaningful jobs are available for everyone, the authors add, but a structural staff shortage limits the potential of the European rail system to make transport more sustainable.

Van de Kerkhof and Vermeij called on the sector to actively involve the younger generation in the cross-border collaborations and digital innovations that increase available rail capacity.

‘It was great to get so many enthusiastic reactions from young people when I told them about sustainable innovations in rail’, said Van de Kerkhof. ‘The train is the mode of transport of the future and youth is the future of rail. So let’s continue to inspire young people with all the wonderful, digital innovations that improve international rail transport, because unknown means unloved.’

Vermeij commented that it was incredibly important to present the rail industry at its best to the next generation. ‘This industry has so much to offer: an international working area, a lot of co-operation and innovation. Show what you have to offer!’

Welcoming the report at a ceremony on December 14, Heijnen said ‘it is more important than ever to get young people excited about a job in the rail sector. After all, the future of rail starts with young people.’

The report marks the conclusion of a year of promotional activity in which the rail ambassadors encouraged young people to choose a job in the sector and took steps to improve the industry’s image.

To reach a younger audience, they spoke to students at several colleges and universities, at the RailTech Europe trade show and at InnoTrans 2022, where Van de Kerkhof addressed a reception for young professionals hosted by Railway Gazette Group. The partners also arranged visits to policymakers in Brussels and Den Haag alongside the Jonge Veranderaars networking association.

Supporting documents

Click link to download and view these files