Manfred Weber, Chairman of the European Parliament’s EPP Group and the Bane NOR’s ERTMS programme are the two winners of the 2022 European Railway Award.
Manfred Weber received the Rail Champion prize for his legislative support of rail travel among youth, while the Norway’s rail infrastructure manager was recognised as this year’s Rail Trailblazer project for revolutionising the country’s rail network and providing a vision for digital railways in a Single European Rail Area.
The EPP Leader MEP Manfred Weber was recognised for his inspiring dedication to the promotion of rail among Europe’s young people. He notably provided pivotal support to the DiscoverEU scheme, which has allowed thousands of young Europeans to travel through and engage with their neighboring EU countries in a sustainable way. Weber’s achievements find particular resonance at this moment as Europe concludes the European Year of Rail and commences the European Year of Youth.
“Rail travel is an essential part of our daily lives. Not only that, it can also be a life-changing experience to discover the beauty and diversity of Europe from a train. That is why I am so proud that we greatly increased the access to interrail for young people in Europe. We are grateful to all the people and organisations that have supported this idea, and we look forward to continue expanding this programme in the future,” Manfred Weber said.
Bane NOR’s ERTMS programme unveils country’s ambition for the next ten years to digitalise and automate its rail network by investing more than EUR 2 billion for the ERTMS deployment. It is the first project of this scale in Europe, with around 4,200 km of track and more than 350 stations around Norway slated to be equipped with European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 technology.
Due to run until 2034, with a first ERTMS line (the Nordlandsbanen) set to open in October of this year, the programme implementation is ongoing, and several important milestones have already been reached. Perhaps most significantly, Bane NOR has already launched an ERTMS pilot line and a training and simulation centre. Workforce training is an important aspect of the project as an estimated 6,000 people will require ERTMS training to fully make use of this important technology. The new, fully digitalised signalling system will enhance safety, punctuality and capacity across Norway’s rail network. It also promises to save a significant amount of hardware and provide the basis for data-based, minimised preventive maintenance. For passengers, it will ultimately allow for a far more efficient and reliable travel experience, with similar benefits for the transport of goods.
“We are extremely proud to receive this award! It shows that our work with ERTMS is of great importance also outside our own borders. We believe in the initiative to build one modern and common signalling system in one data center for the entire country. This award gives us renewed motivation to complete this great ambition,” Sverre Kjenne, the Chief Operating Officer at Bane NOR said when received the award accompanied by a EUR 10.000 donation to the charity of the laureate’s choice. Bane NOR decided to give the prize money to Engineers without Borders Norway, a Non-Governmental Organisation that contributes engineering competence to projects in developing countries.
The ceremony of the 2022 European Railway Award saw several new additions, such as the “Rail Champion” Award for outstanding political contributions to the advancement of rail transport and the “Rail Trailblazer” Award for technical excellence and innovation. The former was jointly bestowed as an honorary recognition by CER and UNIFE, while the latter was selected by a jury of policy makers and sector experts.