In the context of the French Presidency of the European Union, the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure
Companies (CER), the Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants in Europe (ALLRAIL), the European Rail Supply Industry (UNIFE) and the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking (EU-RAIL), took place in presence of Walter Goetz, Head of Cabinet of the European Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean, during the Connecting Europe Days in Lyon on 29 June 2022.
The objective of the Memorandum of Understanding is a study on ‘Smart and Affordable High-Speed Services in the European Union’. The study will demonstrate the most significant benefits deriving from the completion of a European high-speed rail network connecting the capitals and major cities of Europe, as well as the clear sustainability merits. It will also demonstrate how and by when the accelerated investment in the transformation of rail and, in particular, of the European high-speed rail network and services is a key element towards zero-emission, sustainable and equitable mobility.
The study also aims at fostering a radical transformation of the rail system and delivering on European Green Deal objectives, including the achievement of a fully operational, multimodal, sustainable, and smart TransEuropean Transport Network (TEN-T), with high-speed rail connectivity by 2050.
The event was the perfect occasion for the European railway and transport community to acknowledge the importance of research and to officially launch the collaboration for the study that will serve as a hub for knowledge exchange.
Commenting on the Memorandum of Understanding, Walter Goetz, Head of Cabinet of the European Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean, said: “Our Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy aims to double high speed rail traffic by 2030 and triple it by 2050. I see a central role for rail in our future sustainable transport system, but rail must also fulfil its part in becoming a more attractive choice by getting more efficient, cost-effective and innovative. Development of high-speed rail can certainly help us to get more people to consider rail as their means of transport and as their place of work. I therefore welcome the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between Europe’s Rail, CER, ALLRAIL and UNIFE to launch a study on ‘Smart and affordable High-Speed services in the EU’. I count that this cooperation will contribute to the transformation of rail transport and will bring modern services better adapted to the EU citizens’ needs.”
Alberto Mazzola, Executive Director at CER, said: “CER fully supports this important study which will show High Speed rail’s potential to connect all continental EU capitals and major cities, as symbolised by the Connecting Europe Express in 2021, in a convenient and comfortable way, and the positive socioeconomic benefits this will bring.
While a lot has been achieved so far with national success stories connecting among others Paris-Lyon, Milan-Rome, Barcelona-Madrid, and Berlin-Munich, much more is needed if the ambitious objectives of the European Green deal and Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy are to be met – doubling high-speed rail traffic by 2030 and tripling it by 2050.”
Nick Brooks, Secretary General at ALLRAIL, said: “We want to see high speed trains with large capacities – 1000 seats each – connecting places around Europe on a frequent basis. This will lead to low fares and high revenue. While other competing long distance transport modes are setting themselves net zero emission targets, Rail can do it bigger and better. The outcomes of this study must enable high speed rail to become the backbone of long-distance travel in Europe.”
Philippe Citroën, Director General at UNIFE, the European Rail Supply Industry Association commented on the new agreement: “High-speed rail has an essential role to play in the decarbonisation and digital transformation of the entire European transport system. By demonstrating the major benefits of a European high-speed rail network, the study will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and of its ambitious objective to double traffic on high-speed rail by 2030 and to triple it by 2050, in full coherence with the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). We look forward to our cooperation on this study to make this vision a reality.”
Carlo Borghini, Executive Director at Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking, added: “I am looking forward to joining forces with CER, ALLRAIL and UNIFE, bringing together the rail community in this important study. I count on important outcomes that will help us go towards a smart and affordable high-speed European rail network. We are looking forward to starting our first research activities and presenting the first outcomes by the end of this year, that will contribute to achieve such integrated high-speed network!”
All parties look forward to working together and are confident that the study will help us achieve our joint goals that will result in a more attractive, user-friendly, competitive, affordable, easy to maintain, efficient and sustainable European rail system.