The UIC Global Railway Sustainability Taskforce published its 2030 vision, ‘Design a better future’, en route to COP26. This first output from the newly formed taskforce is truly global and includes contributions from members in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. It will bring a compelling and inspiring narrative for rail to this critical UN climate conference. Members are invited to share and use the vision to inspire and promote the railways and their critical role in a carbon-neutral future.
The vision describes a future in which we are on track to decarbonise transport, with a thriving railway that has generated many benefits for society. It paints a picture of the end of this decade when, given the right action and investment, rail serves as the backbone of a sustainable mobility system. The vision includes a call for action to policymakers and world leaders to help design this better future.
UIC is recognised as an official observer NGO at the COP and will act as the global voice of the railways, highlighting the important contribution that rail can make in achieving carbon-neutral transport.
In this optimistic scenario, the world is on track to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the necessary action has been taken since this critical COP26 in Glasgow. High-speed rail and rail freight have doubled, passenger numbers have bounced back and have increased by 50 per cent, and millions of new green jobs have been created. Diesel trains are rapidly being phased out and rail travel is the backbone of a sustainable mobility system. As a result, transport emissions, which in 2021 account for one quarter of all global emissions, have finally started to decrease – a scenario that is only possible with a thriving railway.
The story is based upon four key transformations:
- Transforming cities and connecting communities: transport-oriented development, lighter trains and green city logistics creating liveable cities and connected communities
- Energy, technology, and innovation: rail takes a leading role in the race to zero carbon and the renewables revolution
- Intermodality and the seamless connection: radical innovations in physical and digital connectivity with other modes for a door-to-door service
- Customer experience: cultural transformation of rail towards a more customer-focused service for the changing needs and behaviours of freight and passengers.
Patrice Couchard, Chair of the Global Rail Sustainability Taskforce and Director, General Stations at Belgian Railways (SNCB) said, “Sustainability lies at the heart of rail activities, today more than ever before. This new global vision sets out how improving the customer experience through seamless intermodality will be a key accelerator of the modal shift towards sustainable mobility.”
Cécile Texier, Sustainability and CSR Vice-President at Alstom and member of the taskforce, said, “We are happy to have been part of the ‘Design a better future’ vision project developed by UIC. Rail, already the motorised transport mode with the lowest CO2 emissions, will continue to transform to bring even more sustainable value to all in the future.”
UIC Director General François Davenne said with regard to the vision, “We are entering the decade of action for decarbonisation; this vision sets out how the transport paradigm must transform.” He added, “At the COP, I will be calling for the support of world leaders to back rail as an essential ingredient for a net zero carbon transport system.”