Friday 29 April 2022

UIC TopRail participates in the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism’s Tourism Task Force

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UIC TopRail representatives Carles Casas Esplugas, Chairman of TopRail and Strategic Planning and Prospective Director at FGC, and Vanessa Pérez, UIC TopRail Project Manager, were invited to participate in a European Parliament session held on 28 April 2021 dedicated to connectivity as a focal point for the tourism sector.

During his initial presentation, the TopRail Chairman highlighted UIC’s role as the worldwide rail organisation and TopRail as its group devoted to rail and tourism to the Members of the European Parliament. He presented what lies behind the broad concept of rail tourism, from specific tourist-oriented products to the connectivity that regular rail services can provide to leisure travellers over both short and long distances. He also referred to the impact of the Covid crisis on the sector and explained how rail tourism had recovered mainly due to domestic markets, demonstrating its attractiveness and potential. The final part of the presentation highlighted the potential of rail to provide sustainable tourist experiences and how the future of tourism can rely on rail, from low-density rural areas where the bond between communities and rail is really strong and its potential to improve dense, tourist-congested urban destinations to its connecting role at both short distances (airport connections and suburban services) and long distances (high-speed and night trains).

Numerous issues were raised during the ensuing discussion with the MEPs, focusing in particular on intermodality and cross-border services, but also on the affordability of rail products and rail’s competitiveness. Mr Casas highlighted the efforts being made by the sector to improve these key issues with initiatives such as UIC’s MERITS database and the OSDM ticketing standards (within the context of the ticketing roadmap). The capacity of rail to serve both mass and slow tourism was also presented. During his final remarks, Mr Casas acknowledged that there are significant barriers to the development of rail-based tourist products: capital investment, technical requirements and regulatory barriers - sometimes the most difficult to overcome. There is a need to break down these these barriers by working both within and outside the sector. Greater transparency on subsidies linked to each mode and the internalisation of externalities should also be achieved in order to ensure fair competition between all modes.

The video recording of the hearing can be accessed on the European Parliament website via the following link:

For more information, please visit or contact Vanessa Pérez, Senior Advisor Passenger Department at

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