The European Council adopted the decision on the 2021 European Year of Rail which will be marked by a range of events and other initiatives to promote this green, comfortable, and safe way to travel. The movement aims at increasing the proportion of people and goods travelling by rail, in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal.
“There is every reason to choose the train, and with this thematic year we want to highlight this safe and secure, environmentally friendly and innovative mode of transport. Without a stronger role for trains, we cannot reach our climate targets. And let’s not forget: trains have been crucial in getting essential goods to us during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Andreas Scheuer, the German Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, President of the Council.
In addition to promoting railways as a sustainable mode of transport capable of maintaining vital services even during unexpected crises, the objectives of the European Year of Rail include raising awareness of the cross-border European dimension of rail transport and increasing its contribution to the EU’s economy, industry and society.
The Commission is asked to consider launching two feasibility studies, one on the creation of a European label to promote goods transported by rail, and the other to explore the idea of a rail connectivity index, similar to the index that already exists for air transport. The European Commission will inform the Council and the European Parliament of its plans by the end of March 2021.
The vote by the Council, which took place on December 17, concludes the legislative procedure on the European Year of Rail. A provisional agreement on the proposal was reached between the presidency and the European Parliament in November 2020 and the Parliament voted on in December 2020.
The decision will now be signed by representatives of both institutions and published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force the day after its publication.