Rail bosses call for “a new European rail pact”

Twenty-four leaders of European rail companies, including SNCF boss Jean-Pierre Farandou, want to work together to “improve the attractiveness of rail across the continent”claiming “massive European investment” to tie “a new European railway pact”. “The train is the most eco-responsible mode of motorized transport”argue the leaders in a column published in France on February 20 by the Sunday newspaperregretting that “the share of rail in the transport of passengers and goods remains so low”.

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“Because we share the conviction that rail has a key role to play in the fight against climate change, we are concretely committed to the development of trains in Europe”they write before a “European Railway Summit” which must meet them Monday at the headquarters of the SNCF. They promise improved service to customers, greener and more recyclable trains, an effort on innovation and more diversified recruitment, making more room for women and young people.

The climate issue as an argument

“This pact is ambitious: we will only succeed together”, despite the differences and competition between their companies, they claim. With “a common objective: to increase the share of rail in transport and thus contribute to achieving climate neutrality by 2050”. “We need the Member States and the European Union. We call on them to support this pact by committing to setting clear modal shift targets at the national level”insist the leaders.

“New resources are needed to better finance the rail system and public transport. To invest massively in the modernization of rail networks, to increase their capacity and their interoperability, to modernize rolling stock, we need resources. »

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They also call on Brussels and the Member States to “promote rules of fair competition between modes of transport”, taking into account in particular their ecological footprint. On the French side, in addition to Jean-Pierre Farandou, the platform is signed by the general manager of Getlink (Eurotunnel), Yann Leriche, and the president of Lisea (concessionaire of the Tours-Bordeaux line), Hervé Le Caignec, as well as by the directors generals of Thalys and Eurostar, SNCF subsidiaries.

With nearly 29,000 km of lines, the French rail network is the second longest in Europe. Its density – ratio between the total length of railway lines and the area of ​​the territory – is close to that of Italy and the United Kingdom, higher than Spain but clearly lower than Germany.

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Also sign, among others, the bosses of the German national railway companies Deutsche Bahn, Austrian ÖBB, Belgian SNCB, Danish DSB, Finnish VR, Hungarian MAV, Italian FS, Luxembourg CFL, Dutch NS, Portuguese CP, Slovenian SZ and Swiss SBB.

The World with AFP