Sector Stakeholder Statement on International Rail Passenger Services
The European Rail Sector stakeholders support the work of the International Rail Passenger Platform and the willingness of its members to improve international rail passenger services. They commit to contribute to the ongoing work of the Platform and to advise on the way forward for a European agenda for the development of international rail passenger services.
The rail sector realizes that the status quo is not an option: the international transport systems of Europe need to be adapted to face the challenges of the ongoing and accelerating climate crisis. An interconnected and competitive network of rail passenger services will underpin the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of our continent. It will advance realisation of the Green Deal, securing modal shift whilst enhancing sustainable mobility; strengthen European cohesion by reinforcing connectivity and fair development, not only in the most densely populated areas but also with less well-connected regions.
The rail sector is aware that improvements are imperative in the way international rail services are offered, marketed, and performed. Rail should become the backbone for international travel for passengers: improvements to the availability and online distribution of tickets, travel information, onboard services and better support during disruptions are required. Additionally, a fully integrated and harmonized infrastructure network is needed, ensuring frequent high speed passenger services connecting key passenger hubs.
Rail plays a key role in the delivery of Europe’s goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing air pollution, and relieving congestion. The sector will support the European Commission and the Member States in achieving the goal of the European Green Deal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050. We emphasise that railway undertakings have already developed international passenger cross-border products and services and we commit to work collaboratively in a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory way, and to take an active role in the further developments to achieve the mutually beneficial goals in the international rail passenger area. We are also committed to the full achievement of the Single European Railway Area. All parties involved have a key role to play in removing the barriers that exist related to digitalization, infrastructure, rolling stock, and legislation.
Looking at the short to medium term, the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for reappraisal of the whole transport sector, and the particular contribution that rail can make to building back better. The Covid-19 pandemic produced from its earliest stages a real shock for the transport sector with a massive reduction of transport volumes, resulting in heavy losses in revenue. The rail sector was also hit hard, and it will take several years to get back to former levels of ridership. Adequate, flexible, and non-discriminatory support to railway undertakings, infrastructure managers and ticket vendors will be needed throughout the European Union without distorting competition, taking into account the specificities of the railway sector commensurate with the revenue loss in 2020, 2021 and beyond due to the expected slow recovery, is needed to support the development of the international railway passenger transport market and the competitiveness of the sector vis-à-vis other modes of transport. Even so, rail demonstrated its vital role in ensuring resilient, reliable, and safe transport of both rail passengers and freight. Building on this foundation, and by responding innovatively to new market opportunities, the railway sector can be at the heart of sustainable mobility and cross-border connectivity in a greener Europe.