The Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP), jointly organised by the UNECE and the WHO Regional Office for Europe, held its Fifth High-Level Meeting from 17 to 18 May 2021.
In his intervention, François Davenne, UIC Director General, focussed on rail and public transport and the passenger and freight experience as it might look in 2030.
He said: “We all know that climate change is happening. Our actions will mitigate its effects but we will have to live in times of uncertainties, being confronted with non-linear phenomena that will have consequences on transport infrastructure, water resources, agriculture, public health etc. In this difficult period the transport networks must assume their responsibilities and shift to low emission modes.
Railways are part of the solution, since, although only being about 10% of the market, they account for less than 3% of global emissions. Furthermore, society is benefitting from the improved efficiency and inclusiveness provided by the railways such as decreased road fatalities, injuries and local air pollution. In a nutshell, the priority for our sector is to choose to finance transformational projects for railways at a regional and global level. Transformational projects are those that will have a big impact on efficiency in the short term, such as digitalisation, seamless interconnection with other modes and capacity increase of the existing infrastructure. Those projects will be a driver for the modal shift to rail and public transport in order to achieve the objective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Green Deal in Europe”.
Concerning the experience that end-users should be able to expect in 2030 he said: “By 2030, most passengers will arrive at railway stations on foot, bicycle, or public transport and not only to just take a train! People will spend time in stations to use co-working spaces, for shopping, entertainment or to eat or socialise. The station will feel part of the city or community it serves. Most journeys will be made with multimodal e-tickets, passengers will be able to move seamlessly between different modes of transport. On board the train, some passengers will bring their e-scooter onboard and they will charge them while they travel. Reliability is improving with digital and predictive maintenance. When there are issues with the service, information systems react quickly and allow passengers to flexibly adjust the way they travel to get where they need to with minimum disruption”.
There will be similar enhanced experiences for the freight customer. “By 2030, many more customers will be using the railways because it is getting easier to use a multi-modal logistics chain. Hubs are electrified and well linked to roads, canals and seaports. Digital platforms allow customers to track where their consignment is and tell their customers and investors just how much C02 emissions they have saved them by using the train. The trains themselves are quieter for lineside neighbours due to innovative new braking systems and track design, complaints are dropping and access to new routes have opened up even in more populated areas.”
He concluded by highlighting the fact that to achieve this vision of 2030 the following actions must be put in place now by policy makers and national governments:
- Set binding and ambitious transport modal shift and decarbonisation targets
- Set policy that incentivises the use of railways, public transport, cycling and walking by pricing the external environmental costs of transport
- Support public investment in public transport infrastructure and rolling stock as well as research and innovation programmes focusing on enhancing customer service and modal shift
- Enable stronger linkages between land use and transport planning