Sustainable Mobility. 2021 will be the European Year of Rail

On 4 March, the Commission proposed to declare 2021 “European Year of Rail”. European Years address specific subjects, and aim at encouraging debate at national and European level, ensuring the possibility to provide extra funding for local, national and cross-border projects that address the Year’s special topic.

Besides being one of the most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient transport modes, rail is also the only mode to have almost continuously reduced CO2 emissions since 1990 despite increasing transport volumes. Consequently, the objective of the European Year of Rail is to encourage and support the efforts of the Union, the Member States, regional and local authorities, and other organisations to increase the share of passengers and freight moving by rail, promoting them as a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport, and highlighting their contribution to Union economy, industry and society.

The choice of 2021 is not random, inasmuch as it will be the first full year where the rules agreed under the Fourth Railway Package will be implemented throughout the Union, namely on the opening of the market of domestic passenger services and on reducing costs and administrative burden for railway undertakings.

The proposal follows the European Green Deal presented by the Commission on 11 December 2019, a growth strategy aimed at transforming the Union into a competitive, prosperous and resource-efficient society which protects the health and well-being of its citizens from environmental risks and their consequences. More particularly, as part of the European Green Deal the Commission announced a strategy for sustainable and smart mobility intended to achieve a 90% reduction in transport emissions by 2050, even through the shift of a substantial part of the 75% of inland freight carried today by road onto rail and inland waterways.

Marco Stillo