The goal is to improve cross-border rail connections across the EU while demand for green mobility is growing, making them faster, more frequent and more affordable.
1. Reviving train journeys
The European Commission announced it will support 10 pilot projects to establish new rail services or improve existing ones. The initiative is also intended to promote efficient and green mobility, in line with the Commission’s Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility.
The Commission now wants to help rail companies create new international train connections, by day and by night, by breaking down the many barriers to cross-border rail. I’m looking forward to working with the rail sector to make these 10 pilots a success and to inspire many more to join.Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport
Commissioner @AdinaValean on today’s announcement of new 🇪🇺rail pilot services:— EU Transport (@Transport_EU) January 31, 2023
“I’m looking forward to working with the rail sector to make these 10 pilots a success & to inspire many more to join!”
The route proposals were submitted by the rail sector and relevant authorities in response to the Commission’s Action Plan to boost long-distance and cross-border passenger rail adopted in December 2021. The EU executive selected the following proposals for cross-border pilot services, in order of planned starting date:
- Hungarian Ministry of Transport, new services connecting Hungary, Austria and western Romania;
- Connection Germany – Denmark – Sweden, with participation of SJ (new night train service Stockholm – Copenhagen – Berlin and day train Hamburg – Gothenburg (and potentially Oslo, in cooperation with DSB and DB), Snälltaget (enhanced night train service Stockholm – Copenhagen – Berlin), České dráhy (new service Prague – Berlin –Copenhagen, in co-operation with DB and DSB) and Flixtrain (new service Leipzig – Berlin – Copenhagen– Stockholm);
- Midnight Trains, new night train service Paris – Milan – Venice;
- Flixtrain, new service Munich – Zurich;
- WESTbahn, new service Munich – Vienna – Budapest, extension of existing service;
- Nederlandse Spoorwegen, enhancement of the existing Amsterdam – London service, in cooperation with Eurostar;
- European Sleeper, new night train service Amsterdam – Barcelona;
- Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane /Deutsche Bahn, new services Rome – Munich and Milan – Munich;
- ILSA, new services Lisbon – A Coruña and Lisbon – Madrid;
- Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, new services connecting Catalonia and the South of France.
#ConnectingEurope by train:— EU Transport (@Transport_EU) January 31, 2023
📢These new 🇪🇺pilot services will improve cross-border rail across the EU!
👉10 projects for new & better 🚄connections
👉By day & by night 🌜
Find the full list here: https://t.co/ON1hgCtxkz pic.twitter.com/2fPiYXC2u9
3. Action Plan
Overall, the Action Plan identified obstacles hindering the uptake and operation of cross-border passenger rail services, including measures to address them. One of these measures is the pilot services revealed by the Commission, which is intended to help railway operators and authorities to break down remaining barriers in practice, with the support of the EU.
The EU’s Action Plan comes on top of the existing EU regulatory and policy framework for rail, which equips EU countries and the sector with many tools to implement the Single European Rail Area in order to remove barriers and to open the market for new players and services.
“Rail is one of the most sustainable modes of transport we have. And yet, this potential risks going to waste – cross-border trips account for just 7% of the kilometres travelled by train. This Action Plan will help us make rail a more attractive option for long and cross-border journeys,” said Vălean when announcing the initiative.