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Pushing rail into the digital age

22 January 2015

Speaking at the European Railway Award ceremony in Brussels last night (21 January), Violeta Bulc, European Transport Commissioner, said: "We need to push rail into the digital age through acceleration of on-going initiatives and launching new projects".

The Commissioner prefaced her keynote address by saying she "fully shared the commitment" of the event organizers, CER and UNIFE, "to reward the political and technical achievements in the development of sustainable rail transport and to stimulate innovative thinking on technical and policy perspectives in the rail sector".

To further this goal, argued Bulc, It is now time to "rethink transport".

The Commissioner outlined her vision: "Transport needs to serve people, and must be centred towards the needs of people, who want better mobility. For passenger transport, we must enable travel which is multi-modal and cross-border. Equally, for the logistics of goods, seamless integration between modes and across borders should become the norm. It is here that transport can make a major contribution to the quality of life of each citizen, and to growth and jobs."

She emphasised that rail is an "essential part" of this vision and the adoption of the 4th railway package is her main priority for this sector.

In addition to the adoption of 4th Railway package, said Bulc, the European rail community needs "to take steps to solve concrete operational difficulties that exist in the sector"

"In particular," she maintained, "we  have to aim at eliminating unnecessary rules that constitute barriers for new entrants in order to get new actors to deploy new rail services. We count very much on the important role that the European Railway Agency can play in terms of reducing the number of national rules, but we would also like to see national regulatory bodies to make full use of their new powers acquired through the recent “recast directive”.

"We also need to develop innovation which is vital to meet  future challenges in the rail sector. We need to push rail into the digital age through acceleration of on-going initiatives and launching new projects."

The Commissioner concluded her presentation by congratulating the two winners of this year's European Railway Award: Lord Andrew Adonis and Alexander Neumister.


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