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27 July 2020
The European Union Agency for Railways has published its latest biennial Report on Railway Safety and Interoperability in the European Union
Monitoring safety and interoperability of the Union railway system is one of the key tasks of the European Union Agency for Railways. The report published today is based on data for the reporting period 2018, and where available, for 2019. This report provides a thorough overview of the development of railway safety and interoperability in the European Union. It should facilitate evidence-based policy-making at EU level.
European railways remain among the safest in the world with one passenger fatality occurring each 25 billion kilometers on average. Major accidents with more than five fatalities are becoming increasingly rare, 2018 being the first year since the late 1980s with no major railway accident reported. ERA’s Executive Director, Josef Doppelbauer however urges the sector: ”We can never afford to be complacent. Unlike the European aviation and maritime industries, railways still have not implemented a systematic and comprehensive EU-wide safety occurrence reporting scheme, which would enable not only to learn effectively from major accidents, but also from incidents without victims. Several areas in which safety has been stagnating recently, such as level crossing and railway workers safety, or rolling stock fires, would particularly benefit from wider information sharing. I invite all railway parties to be strongly committed to enhancing railway safety by rigorously applying a robust Safety Management System and by implementing a positive railway safety culture.”
We notice a sound progress in railway interoperability concerning the alignment of operational frameworks in terms of rules, however only modest improvements are visible in making the railway assets interoperable. At border crossings the weaknesses in railway interoperability are most visible. In many areas, delays in the implementation of legal requirements in a few Member States consequently delay the interoperable deployment of railways in other countries, depriving them of the full benefits from the harmonised system. “We all need to enhance our efforts in particular in the area of railway data interoperability”, says Josef Doppelbauer: “high quality interoperable railway data are essential for European railways. I invite all parties involved to intensify their collaboration with the Agency.”
The report geographically covers the 28 Member States as of end 2019. Since Cyprus and Malta do not have railway systems that are covered by the EU legislation, the Union railway system is constituted by 26 Member States.
20 July 2020
The EU is supporting the economic recovery in all Member States by injecting almost €2.2 billion into 140 key transport projects. These projects will help build missing transport links across the continent, support sustainable transport and create jobs. The projects will receive funding through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU's grant scheme supporting transport infrastructure.
With this budget, the EU will deliver on its climate objectives set out in the European Green Deal. A very strong emphasis is on projects reinforcing railways, including cross-border links and connections to ports and airports. Inland waterway transport is boosted through more capacity and better multimodal connections to the road and rail networks. In the maritime sector, priority is given to short-sea-shipping projects based on alternative fuels and the installation of on-shore power supply for ports to cut emissions from docked ships.
EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: "The €2.2 billion EU contribution to this crucial transport infrastructure will help kick-start the recovery, and we expect it to generate €5 billion in investments. The type of projects we invest in ranges from inland waterways transport to multimodal connections, alternative fuels to massive railroad infrastructure. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is one of our key instruments in creating a crisis-proof and resilient transport system - vital now and in the long run."
The EU will support rail infrastructure projects located on the trans-European transport (TEN-T) core network with a total of €1.6 billion (55 projects). This includes the Rail Baltica project, which integrates the Baltic States in the European rail network, as well as the cross-border section of the railway line between Dresden (Germany) and Prague (Czechia).
It will also support the shift to greener fuels for transport (19 projects) with almost €142 million. A number of projects involve converting vessels so they may run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), as well as installing corresponding infrastructure in ports.
Road transport will also see the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, namely through the installation of 17,275 charging points on the road network and the deployment of 355 new buses.
Nine projects will contribute to an interoperable railway system in the EU and the seamless operation of trains across the continent through the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), Upgrading locomotives and railway track to the unified European train control system will boost safety, decrease travel times and optimise track usage. The nine projects will receive over €49.8 million.
The projects were selected for funding via two competitive calls for proposals launched in October 2019 (regular CEF Transport call) and November 2019 (CEF Transport Blending Facility call). The EU's financial contribution comes in the form of grants, with different co-financing rates depending on the project type. For 10 projects selected under the Blending Facility, EU support is to be combined with additional financing from banks (via a loan, debt, equity or any other repayable form of support).
Overall, under the CEF programme, €23.2 billion is available for grants from the EU's 2014-2020 budget to co-fund Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) projects in the EU Member States. Since 2014, the first CEF programming year, six calls for project proposals have been launched (one per year). In total, the CEF has so far supported 794 projects in the transport sector, worth a total of €21.1 billion.
For both calls, given EU Member States' approval of the selected projects, the Commission will adopt formal financing decisions in the coming days. The Commission's Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) will sign the grant agreements with the project beneficiaries at the latest by January 2021.
14 July 2020
Among its wide project portfolio INEA supports many actions devoted to promoting the uptake of alternative fuels for transport.
Transitioning towards greener alternatives for freight and passengers is, in fact, one of the key elements of the EU’s Green Deal and will constitute the backbone of the EU’s investment in the sector in the years to come.
When one thinks of alternative fuels, electricity springs immediately to mind and although it is by far the “greener” way to move freight and people, INEA has been also supporting projects to develop hydrogen and liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure in the EU.
LNG in particular can help mitigate the environmental impact of the sector whilst at the same time keeping costs low. In the recent weeks, many projects have started to deliver LNG infrastructure in Europe.
In Finland, Gasum opened of a new LNG filling station in Lieto. Together with the gas filling station in Turku Harbor, the new station in Lieto strengthens the distribution of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied biogas (LBG) for the needs of long-haul transport. The project is financed with €2.8 million from the CEF Transport programme and aims at rolling out a network of alternative fuel infrastructure (14 stations).
In Germany, an LNG refueling station for trucks was just inaugurated in Ulm by Rolande in the context of the Connect2LNG project. With a capacity of up to 150 vehicles per day, the fuel station is optimally sized. The project will receive a maximum support from the EU of €4.5 million.
Finally, the studies to build a brand new LNG reloading terminal and bunkering vessels in the port of Gdańsk (Poland) have just been finalised thanks to a grant worth €1 million. Once constructed ships with engines running o LNG will be able to refuel from the port.
Check out all the alternative fuel projects supported by the CEF Transport programme!
30 June 2020
On Monday 29 June, the Just Transition Platform (JTP) will be launched to help Member States to draw up their territorial Just Transition Plans and access funding from the over €150 billion Just Transition Mechanism. This online Platform will provide technical and advisory support for public and private stakeholders in coal and other carbon-intensive regions, with easy access to information on funding opportunities and sources of technical assistance.
The Platform will ensure that the €40 billion (in 2018 constant prices) proposed under the Just Transition Fund is channelled to the right projects and that no region is left behind. It will also support access to the dedicated scheme under InvestEU and the public sector loan facility, which together with the Just Transition Fund form the three pillars of the Just Transition Mechanism. The platform will provide:
Technical and advisory support to Member States and regions, including on the operationalisation of the territorial Just Transition Plans and the building of pipelines of projects for the Just Transition Mechanism;
A web-based single access point, including the possibility to contact the Commission with technical and administrative questions related to just transition;
Sharing of information, experience and knowledge for fossil fuel and carbon-intensive regions, with dedicated project and expert databases;
A forum for dialogue on just transition involving local and national stakeholders, social partners, public authorities and EU institutions.
Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, and Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, will launch the Just Transition Platform during an online event starting on Monday 29 June at 09:30.
This will kick-start a week of online events dedicated to coal, lignite, peat and oil shale regions as well as carbon-intensive regions, organised under the Coal Regions Virtual Week and a Carbon-Intensive Regions Seminar. These events will inform stakeholders of the latest EU policy developments and provide an opportunity for good practices sharing. A full programme and registration is available here.
The Platform will host a projects and experts database towards the end of 2020.
Members of the College said:
Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said: “Our Green Deal ambition is to demonstrate a new model for inclusive transformation based on a just transition. As we rebuild our economies and societies, we owe it to our children and grandchildren to grasp the opportunity to build a more sustainable future. With the Just Transition Platform we can start making this a reality”
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “The Just Transition Platform is a firm step towards a climate-neutral Europe. I encourage authorities from all Member States to make full use of it when developing and implementing territorial just transition plans that promote economic renewal, new skills and new job opportunities. I am determined that no one is left behind and that all regions and all Europeans are able to tap the benefits of a greener, fairer more digital future.”
Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, said: “The Just Transition Platform will provide tailor-made support to regions that will be most affected by the green transition. It will bring together expertise from all relevant Commission services to make sure that fossil fuel and carbon intensive regions have all the information, tools and assistance they need to transform their economies in a fair way.”
The Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) is part of the European Green Deal effort to create a climate-neutral economy in Europe by 2050. The Mechanism will seek to overcome the economic and social costs of the climate transition in the most vulnerable coal and carbon-intensive regions. The Mechanism consists of three pillars of financing: the Just Transition Fund, proposed on 14 January 2020 and strengthened by the 27 May Recovery Package; a dedicated just transition scheme under InvestEU; and a public sector loan facility. The three pillars are expected to mobilise more than €150 billion of investments in the EU regions most vulnerable to the climate transition over the period 2021-2027.
Announced with the European Green Deal Investment Plan, the Just Transition Platform builds on and expands the work of the Initiative for Coal Regions in Transition, and is part of the Just Transition Mechanism. It will have three work streams: coordinated technical assistance from the European Commission and the EIB group, a web-based single access point and helpdesk, and events promoting stakeholder involvement and the exchange of best practices.
19 June 2020
“Rail freight is way cleaner than road freight. It indeed generates nine times fewer greenhouse gas emissions than road freight does. Fostering rail freight is key to achieve the Paris agreements and the Green Deal climate goals.”
“We are then all committed to relaunch rail freight as far as possible. We look forward to building synergies between the different transport modes: maritime transport for heavy and long distances, railway transport across borders and along corridors, and road transport for the last miles”
Following a first videoconference meeting which took place on Tuesday 5 May, Karima Delli, the chairwoman of the ‘transport and tourism’ committee of the European Parliament, together with the Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) and the CEOs of the European rail freight transport companies members of the Rail Freight Forward Initiative, have decided to set up a new coalition of rail freight.
While rail freight lies within the cleanest transport modes when it comes to transport of goods, fostering modal shift across the EU appears to be a matter of top priority. It is one of the solutions to comply with the ambitions of the Green Deal as well as our climate goals.
The current polycrisis that affects the whole World has however had significant impacts on the overall economy, then on rail freight too. The sector needs to be supported to be able to survive this crisis and to meet our expectations on sustainability over the upcoming months, which could lead to an effective European green logistic chain.
The rail freight coalition aims at working on the ways to encourage modal shift and rail freight, with the ambition to increase the modal share of rail freight in Europe from currently 18% to 30% by 2030 and beyond. It is then about reversing the current trend which has been tending to let rail freight down.
The stakeholders have identified four working issues:
Rail freight as a priority:
Rail and road freight do not face the same costs and competition issues. The Council must resume work and conclude the discussions on the Eurocharging directive as quick as possible, in order to launch trialogues over the upcoming months. A whole discussion on competition between road and rail must be held at the top level.
Rail freight has been key during the Coronavirus crisis, and will keep on being essential. The sector is however not a priority compared to rail passenger transport. The situation should be balanced in the future.
Rail freight is international and the revision of the Rail Freight Corridors Regulation 913/2010 should lead to the respective governance structures.
Need of economic and financial support:
The sector must be incentivised to be able to overcome the current crisis.
Economic and financial support should however be conditioned to ecofriendly/green investments (see below).
Member States should also take measures on track access fees, to make them lower for rail freight operators while compensating infrastructure managers for the loss of revenue, where there are losses;
There is a clear need to undertake massive investments (e.g. new traffic control systems) to strengthen and foster modal shift across the EU and the rail freight sector. They should be targeted on infrastructure: digitalisation and investments in new technologies will make possible to set up more capacity on tracks, especially on Rail Freight Corridors.
Those investments must comply with the climate objectives, when it comes to infrastructures and technologies.
Investments in rail freight is not an end in itself. Rail operators should also pay close attention to what they deliver.
To make rail freight as effective and green as possible, new technologies are one of the solutions, in terms of digitalisation, standardisation etc (e.g. digital European capacity planning).
The use of new technologies must however comply with preservation of jobs as well as with strict data policies.