Futuribles Journal n° 448

Territoires, réseaux

The Railways — Engine of Future Mobility in Europe?

With the Green Pact that was launched in 2019 and the ‘Climate Package’ of 2021, the European Union has shown great ambition on the environmental front, particularly with its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and intermediate aim of a 55% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Some sectors are of particularly strategic importance here, beginning with transport, since it is the leading greenhouse gas emitting sector in the EU (more than 25% of the total). To decarbonize this sector, the main emphasis has to be on public transport and modes of transport with the lowest emissions. Among these, railways have pride of place but receive insufficient support from European investors and politicians. With the European Year of Railways ending in December 2021, Catherine Vieilledent shows here how European railways policy has evolved over recent decades, and how rail has fallen behind when it could play a lead role in the Union’s environmental strategy. She stresses the advantages of intra-European rail transport (for both passengers and freight) and the importance of re-balancing modes of transport (with the aim of encouraging a modal shift). In so doing, she is arguing for the completion, as soon as possible, of the trans-European rail network, a key element in ‘sustainable resilient mobility’ on the Old Continent.

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