THE Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants in Europe (AllRail), the European Railway Industry Association (UNIFE) and the Europe’s Rail joint research undertaking have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to conduct a study of “smart and affordable” high-speed services in the European Union (EU).

The study aims to demonstrate the most significant benefits that would arise from the completion of a high-speed network connecting the capitals and major cities of Europe, as well as the sustainability merits of such a network.

It will also seek to demonstrate how and to what timescale accelerated investment in the transformation of rail, and of the European high-speed network and its services in particular, is a key element in delivering zero-emission, sustainable and fair transport.

The study also aims to foster radical transformation of the rail system to deliver on EU Green Deal objectives, including the completion of a “fully operational, multimodal, sustainable and smart” Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) including high-speed rail by 2050.

The study partners say they are confident that the study “will help us achieve our joint goals that will result in a more attractive, user-friendly, competitive, affordable, easy to maintain, efficient and sustainable European rail system.”

“We are looking forward to starting our first research activities and presenting the first outcomes by the end of this year,” says Mr Carlo Borghini, executive director of Europe’s Rail.

CER executive director, Mr Alberto Mazzola, says that the study will demonstrate the potential of high-speed rail to connect all EU capitals and major cities “in a convenient and comfortable way, and the positive socioeconomic benefits this will bring.” While a lot has been achieved so far, he says much more is needed if the ambitious objectives of the European Green Deal and Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy are to be met, including doubling high-speed rail traffic by 2030 and tripling it by 2050.

“We want to see high-speed trains with high capacity - 1000 seats each - connecting places around Europe on a frequent basis,” says AllRail secretary general, Mr Nick Brooks. “This will lead to low fares and high revenue. The outcomes of this study must enable high-speed rail to become the backbone of long-distance travel in Europe.”