The European Council has agreed on June 24 on a negotiating mandate of the European Year of Rail initiative proposed by the European Commission in March. The mandate agreed will allow the incoming presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the final text.
“Environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient, rail will play a crucial role in helping the EU become climate neutral by 2050. The COVID-19 crisis has also shown how rail transport can facilitate the supply of essential goods such as medical devices, food and fuel in exceptional circumstances,” said Oleg Butković, Croatian Minister of Transport and President of the Council.
The Council has added several important themes to the European Year of Rail initiative, such as the role of railways in end-to-end mobility, how to increase the capacity of railway infrastructure, and informing rail passengers of their rights and of the availability of through-ticketing.
The Council has tasked the Commission with considering launching a feasibility study on the creation of a European label to promote goods transported by rail. Such a label would also encourage businesses to shift their transport to rail. The Commission is to inform of its plans by the end of March 2021.
The Council has also made the evaluation of the results of the Year of Rail activities more robust by introducing the use of key performance indicators. The Commission is to use such indicators for its report, which is due by the end of 2022.
The European Year of Rail will support the delivery of the Green Deal objectives and will promote rail transport as the backbone of the transport system which will help to reduce the CO2 emissions.
The Green Deal implies to accelerate the shift to sustainable and smart mobility to reduce the greenhouse gas emission. In particular, a substantial part of the 75% of inland freight carried today by road should shift onto rail and inland waterways.