The EU Commission has declared 2021 the European Year of Railways, within the framework of which it is planned to launch Connecting Europe Express thematic trains in 26 European countries.
The project is intended to visually demonstrate how railway transport contributes to the development of business and society in the European Union, the formation of cultural, economic and personal ties between the EU member states, to emphasize the importance of the EU investment policy for the development of transport infrastructure.
At each train stop, events are planned to clarify the role of rail transport in the life of society and identify problems and bottlenecks that hinder the attraction of new passengers and cargo. In order to popularize the plans for the development of railway transport, provided for in the Strategy for Sustainable and Intelligent Mobility of the EU and which are an important element in the creation of the trans-European transport network TEN-T, it is planned to hold five thematic conferences in Lisbon, Bucharest, Brno, Berlin and Betemburg.
Taking into account the different track gauges, three trains will be formed on the railways of the EU countries. The normal gauge train will consist of six cars: two with an exhibition display, a conference car, a dining car, as well as a passenger car with seating and sleeping chairs.
The train with 1668 mm gauge bogies will operate in Portugal and Spain, and 1520 mm gauge – in the Baltic countries. The first Connecting Europe Express train will set off on September 2, 2021 from Lisbon, the capital of the country that holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2021.
Within 36 days, three trains will travel to 70 cities in 26 countries, including Ljubljana, the capital of the country holding the presidency of the EU the second half of 2021, and will complete the program in Paris on October 7, 2021.
The organizers of the project express their confidence that in order to achieve the goals outlined in the EU environmental program, it is necessary to further strengthen the position of rail transport through a consistent increase in proposals for long-distance international passenger traffic and the transfer of goods from other modes of transport (computer graphics, source: European Commission).
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