The European Year of Rail 2021 was officially launched at the end of March during a joint virtual conference organised by the European Commission and the Portuguese Presidency. The following day, an informal Council of Ministers meeting was held on the topic of rail transport. This marks the start of the initiative launched by the European Commission to promote rail transport in the midst of the Corona pandemic at a difficult time. It is part of the European Union’s efforts to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 as one element of the European Green Deal.
The European Commission and its partners want to highlight the importance of rail transport with numerous events, projects and activities across the EU: Europe’s innovative rail industry, its role in European culture and heritage, its connectivity to regions, people and businesses, its share in sustainable tourism as well as its role in the EU’s relations with neighbouring countries. Among other things, it is important to raise awareness of this environmentally friendly means of transport, especially among the younger generation.
The UIC (Union Internationale des Chemins de fer), as part of the EU initiative, is planning a series of events covering a wide range of activities in the sector: from an international „Green Transport Week“ held to coincide with the UN World Environment day in June and the EU Green Week to a „Rail Accessibility Day“ and an international symposium which aims to demonstrate how RAIL is resilient, innovative and prepared for the ‘New Normal’ – the new (multi) mobility challenges ahead. (More information here)
Through a Memorandum of Understanding with UIC and participation in the UIC TopRail work to promote rail tourism, FEDECRAIL is working with national railways to develop and promote the European Year of Rail. The European Commissioner for Culture and Education Mariya Gabriel recently described the presentation of the “7 Most Endangered 2021” by Europa Nostra as a good start to the event. Earlier, she had already explicitly emphasized that railways were an essential part of European culture and identity and would be a key element in the European Green Deal.