Today is the European Day of Rail. Rail has been a critical part of the development of European mobility. Europe’s rail system has had a key role in connecting European cities across the continent. It has enabled young people and students to explore new cultural horizons and learn new languages. It has facilitated international businesses and organisations to conduct their work trans-nationally.
Green politicians have been long-time advocates for sustainable transport as one of the key areas that can help secure greener futures. In 2017, the European Greens adopted a resolution entitled ‘On the integration of the European railway network’ underlining sustainable mobility for the many. In 2019, when we dreamed of a just and sustainable transition, train were also one of our main priorities in the electoral EU manifesto. Citizens are also increasingly demanding greater and more effective alternatives to flying. As Ciaran Cúffe, Green Party MEP for Dublin, states:
“City dwellers want clean air, more greenery and better transport choices.”
As a major emitter, the transport sector accounts for about a one fourth of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions -- including 24% of direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. The EU’s lack of drastic action on transport has had a dire impact on the environment and human health. Air pollution is the biggest environmental health risk in Europe, and especially impacts communities of colour and low-income communities. By investing in rail, we can give citizens access to mobility options that are more sustainable.
2021 can be the year of rail!
Transportation has been a major focus of the European Greens, with investment in rail being a key Green demand. We can have a just and sustainable transition that puts workers and their rights at the forefront! The enhancement of European railway networks will mean new green jobs that offer fair remuneration and decent working conditions.
There are already some exciting developments from our work on rail this past year. For example, you can take the revived night trains across Europe to take you on your next great adventure! The Greens have pressed the European Union to invest in night trains across Europe. And last January, Thomas Waitz and Evelyne Huytebroeck finally boarded the first night train Brussels-Vienna connection! Night trains have the potential to be an attractive transport option in comparison with others that have the largest carbon footprints, like the airplane or car.
One of the draft resolutions which will be debated at the 33rd European Green Party Council, entitled ‘2021 Year of Rail' brings this topic for discussion with the Green family. It calls for political action towards the green transformation of Europe; including a circular economy and sustainable transport system. The resolution, although subject to change, currently includes demands related to strengthening worker’s rights in the lorry transport sector, securing rights for the travellers to a safe and successful journey, and making sure trains are accessible also for people with disabilities.
Join us at the 33rd European Green Party Council this 28-29 May to learn more about this issue, and much more! Register now.