Mazzola will take office from the beginning of 2021, and will focus on the recovery of the rail sector following the coronavirus pandemic, as well as continuing CER’s campaign to promote rail as a sustainable alternative to private road transport.

“I will work to support, with the relaunch of Europe after Covid-19, the full recovery of passenger and freight transport by rail, as well as to promote new policies to boost rail,” Mazzola says. “With the 2021 European Year of Rail we will bring citizens, rail workers, social partners, businesses and European youth closer to the public debate on EU sustainability and mobility policies.”

As part of Mazzola’s current role as senior vice-president for international government affairs at Italian State Railways (FS), he works in Brussels dealing primarily with international affairs and European legislation, market regulation and technical standards.

Mazzola’s appointment as executive director follows a five-year tenure between 2015 and September 2020 working for the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) as vice-president of the Transport, Energy and Service of General Interest Section and president of the International Trade Agreements Follow-up Committee.

“I am confident that Mazzola will strongly represent Europe’s rail sector towards the European institutions and successfully position rail as the backbone of Europe’s future sustainable mobility plans,” says Mr Andreas Matthä, CER chair and CEO of Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB). “He will also focus on the current Covid-19 challenges, working hard with members to regain customer trust.”

Mazzola succeeds the current executive director, Mr Libor Lochman, who will have held the role for nine years when he steps down in January.

The CER general assembly has also elected Mr Robert Homolya, CEO of MAV-Start, as vice-chair of CER, and Mr Vincent Ducrot, CEO of Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), as a new member of the CER management committee.