Producing 275 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, freight transport represents almost a third of total transport emissions, including passenger transport. RFF says that with an estimated growth rate of 30% by 2030, the climate impact from freight transport is expected to increase substantially.

To avoid this, RFF aims to boost the rail’s share of freight transport from 18% to 30% by 2030. With rail freight emitting nine times less CO2 than road freight, the coalition says this modal shift is a crucial step to help the transport industry reach its climate targets as defined in the Paris Accord.

The signatories include BLS Cargo, CD Cargo, CFL Cargo, DB Cargo, GreenCargo, Lineas, LTE Group, Mercitalia, Ost-West Logistik, PKP Cargo, Rail Cargo Group, SBB Cargo, SNCF Logistics, and ZSSK Cargo.

“The 30% target is ambitious, but the European rail freight sector is determined to deliver the sustained efforts needed to achieve it,” RFF said in a statement. “The members of RFF are committed to working together to transform and modernise the rail freight industry, by driving efficiency and standardisation, improving cost-effectiveness and accelerating technological innovation. Each company will step up its efforts to offer competitive products that convince customers to choose rail for its quality, frequency, reliability, flexibility, price and service.”

RFF has also called on policy makers and key stakeholders to work together to implement the conditions needed for a successful modal shift. It says a competitive rail offering requires infrastructure which makes operating a train through Europe as easy as running a lorry. RFF also urged national governments and the European Union to provide a transparent and solid regulatory framework to enable infrastructure managers to implement this network.

The coalition also asked authorities to equalise taxes, administrative costs and infrastructure access charges for different transport modes to level the playing field between trains and lorries.

To mark the commitment and raise awareness for the modal shift, RFF has launched “Noah’s Train,” a freight train which will travel through Vienna, Berlin, Paris and Brussels over the next two months. In each city, prominent local street artists will gradually turn the train into the world’s longest mobile artwork.