2021 is the European Year of Rail, shining a light on one of the most sustainable, innovative and safest transport modes we have!
A variety of activities will put rail in the spotlight throughout 2021 across the continent, to encourage the use of rail by both people and freight and to contribute to the EU Green Deal goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050.
The Connecting Europe Express will be one of the European Year of Rail’s most emblematic initiatives.
The ‘Connecting Europe Express’, a special train put together as part of the European Year of Rail 2021, left Lisbon train station on 2 September.
It will stop in more than 100 towns and cities during its five-week journey, before arriving in Paris on 7 October. Departing from Lisbon and ending its trip in Paris, the train will make a notable stop in Ljubljana, connecting the Portuguese, Slovenian and French Presidencies of the Council of the EU.
Commissioner for Transport, Adina Văleansaid: “Rail has shaped our rich, common history. But, rail is also Europe’s future, our route to mitigating climate change and powering economic recovery from the pandemic, as we build a carbon-neutral transport sector. Over the coming weeks, the Connecting Europe Express will become a rolling conference, laboratory and forum for public debate on how to make rail the transport mode of choice for passengers and businesses alike. Please give us a warm welcome when we stop at a railway station near you.”
Along the route, various events are planned to welcome the train at railway stations across Europe. Rail enthusiasts can also follow debates happening on board as well as conferences on EU infrastructure policy and the role of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), that will be livestreamed via the event website from Lisbon, Bucharest, Berlin and Bettembourg. The Connecting Europe Express is the result of unique cooperation between the European Commission and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), European rail operators, infrastructure managers and numerous other partners at EU and local level.
CER Chair and CEO of Austrian Federal Railways, Andreas Matthä emphasised the significance of the joint project: “The Connecting Europe Express is impressive proof of the success of the European Year of Rail, at the same time it points out our joint challenges ahead. CER members are committed to make the Green Deal a success. A strong European railway sector is vital for achieving the EU climate targets. Currently there are too many technical barriers in cross-border rail transport and it is very complex to run a train across national borders in Europe. We need to continue to shift freight from road to rail, provide efficient services for daily commuters and expand international long-distance passenger rail transport with day and night services. I am convinced that the Connecting Europe Express will raise awareness of these challenges. I would like to thank all colleagues and partners who made this project possible and wish the Connecting Europe Express a good journey.”
Fernando Medina (PT/PES), Mayor of Lisbon and CoR member, declared: “It is with great joy that Lisbon is the departure station for the Connecting Europe Express. It will undoubtedly be a memorable journey from Lisbon to Paris, connecting 26 countries in 36 days. Lisbon has long been committed to sustainable mobility, and this train adventure is a moment of strong significance for our city. EU commitment to the railway sets us on the right track to fight climate change. It is greener and more sustainable, but also more comfortable, cheaper and safer transportation. All aboard, and safe journey!”
Rail is one of the most sustainable forms of transportation and its expansion throughout Europe is vital to achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 as set out in the European Green Deal.