Transport plays a pivotal role within the European economy and society. Indeed, transport systems are of crucial importance for the competitiveness of any nation or regional economy as well as for the mobility of its citizens. However, while they bring significant benefits to society there are also substantial costs.
The current growth of the transport sector is far from being sustainable. In Europe, it is the only sector with uninterrupted and continually growing levels of energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and it is currently responsible for around 25% of total EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Over the last years, Urban Authorities in Europe have been working on local, national and European initiatives and projects on sustainable urban mobility, through Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) in order to reduce GHG emissions and noise emissions in urban areas, and protect climate. Such initiatives and projects have been aiming to promote and facilitate, for example, cycling, or introduce innovative multi-modal hubs and mobility services, allowing for a seamless transfer from one mode of transport to another where passenger are able to take an informed decision, ticketing, routing on how to proceed with their journey in the most effective and sustainable way.
Among those, other initiatives and projects aim to contribute to smart mobility and sustainable growth by enhancing the attractiveness and the competitiveness of the European railway system to ensure a modal shift from roads towards a more sustainable mode of transport such as rail, and that would certainly require some changes and improvements.
Indeed, attractiveness of the European railway system for train passengers would surely be guaranteed by letting train journeys pass comfortably while relaxing or working, as if they were at home, also thanks to a fast connection to the Internet. In this respect, the FAST-TRACKS project promises to efficiently meet passengers’ expectations.
On the other hand, the best improvements in the rail sector towards a much more sustainable mobility depend also on further changes in the generation of green electricity by the energy supply industry, in order to strive towards the vision of carbon-free operation. That is obviously outside the direct control of the rail sector, but by creating strategic partnerships with energy suppliers, European railways will be able to secure access to such green energy supplies.