On 19 February 2020 the European freight CEOs, united in the CEO Task force, gathered to discuss the next steps of the Rail Freight Forward initiative, organised by the Community of European Railways (CER) and UIC.
The pan-European Rail Freight Forward initiative started in early 2018 with the aim of increasing rail freight’s modal share to at least 30% by 2030.
Last December, the Head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, presented the European Green Deal in which rail is considered as the backbone for European mobility. The rail freight sector should make a significant contribution to Europe’s roadmap for green transition, helping it become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
Clemens Först, CEO Task Force Chair, stressed the opportunity for the freight railway sector to contribute to the European Green Deal. During the work session, the CEOs discussed and agreed upon nine large-scale innovation programmes. These enable the vision for the responsibility of the RUs (railway undertakings), IMs (infrastructure managers) and policy makers to be translated into areas for concrete action. Furthermore, the benefits and cost estimates of the nine specific fields of action were presented.
As a next step, a roadmap with a concrete deployment plan will be developed. This plan will be proposed as a strong sector initiative to the European Commission.
The realisation of the roadmap relies, in addition to these stakeholders, on policy-makers, authorities, and financial measures taken in the context of the Green Deal.
The top-level endorsement of this innovation programme is a clear confirmation of the freight sector’s commitment to act as a driver behind modal shift and more environmentally-friendly mobility for the future.