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EU transport ministers to discuss infrastructure development


EU transport ministers to discuss infrastructure development

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Photo: Phil Nijhuis/AFP

EU transport ministers meet virtually today to discuss the modernisation of rail transport in the region.

For decades, European railways have struggled to modernise and to stay competitive with road- and air-based transit alternatives. Brussels and EU member-states have chronically under-invested in the sector, leading to nonstandard rail power networks, differing track gauges, and signalling and telecommunications equipment incompatible across borders and networks.

Railways transport just 11% of EU freight, despite being highly efficient and only accounting for 0.5% of EU transport-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To catalyse change in the rail sector and decrease GHG emissions 25% by 2030, the 2019 European Green Deal (EGD) has prioritised a shift of 75% of EU freight traffic from road to rail and massive systemic operational standardisations.

Today, readers should expect modest commitments to ensure that the rail plan set forth by the EGD is on track. If transport ministers’ modernisation plans succeed, expect significant short-term public investment into the main European rail and infrastructure providers this year and policy changes to allow longer and taller trains to transit cargo throughout the region. Expect resistance from the major air and ground-freight providers that will be out-competed by new rail networks.

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