UIC Director General François Davenne participated in the OECD 2021 GGSD Forum on 17 November. During the forum, he emphasised in particular the fact that rail freight has shown its resilience; public transport has also held up.
“In terms of rail transport, railways are already a low-carbon transport mode. Rail accounts for 7.6% of passenger and 17.6% of freight transport, but creates only 0.5% of its GHG emissions. We need a clear idea from governments to move towards a paradigm shift.
The average journey in France today is 15 km. We must be able to achieve a transport mix that gives a share to walking, public transport and rail. We have to develop the capacity of our mode to bring about modal shift. For this to happen, rail must be desirable. Our citizens must be satisfied with this change of mentality. We need better interconnections between modes – UIC is working with IATA – which also work through the high-speed, intercity and public transport networks via the OSDM product, which is able to integrate the different modes.
We need rapid innovation to have a transport concept where rail and public transport are the backbone of mobility. In terms of public policy, this means supporting research programmes to help with interconnection. We need more infrastructure – that means more investment; due to the fact that we have very low externalities, we should be favoured.”
He added: “We have ten years if we do not want irreversible damage. In the coming decade, we need a more holistic approach. We need to think about the modes of transport to provide what is best for needs. A global shift must take place, and it includes major investment. There are opportunities to change the proportion of rail. However, it is possible to do better than today. It is a question of logistics and innovation in digital tools. It’s about making these new options desirable to consumers. I attended conferences at the COP showing trains being converted into hydrogen trains. These are very interesting ideas involving increasingly reusable systems.”