The EC has launched a new website to provide more information about the initiative and to highlight European Year of Rail activities. Notable events already confirmed include the European Year of Rail Launch on March 29, which will coincide with the start of the Portuguese presidency of the European Council.

The EC says other events will highlight rail’s various dimensions - from Europe’s innovative rail industry, to rail’s role in European culture and heritage, its importance for connecting regions, people and businesses, its part in sustainable tourism as well as its role in connecting neighbouring countries.

The EC’s 2021 legislative agenda will also reflect the European Year of Rail, with proposals expected on a new rail industrial partnership, improved links for rail with other modes of transport, and making freight transport more sustainable overall, as outlined in the EC’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, which was adopted on December 9.

The EC says rail carries 7% of all passengers and 11% of all goods in the European Union but is responsible for less than 0.5% of the European Union’s transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. The European Year of Rail is intended to create momentum to help increase rail’s share of passenger and freight transport, helping to reduce transport CO2 emissions and contribute to the objectives of the EU’s Green Deal.

“Our future mobility needs to be sustainable, safe, comfortable and affordable,” says Ms Adina Vălean, European commissioner for transport. “Rail offers all of that and much more! The European Year of Rail gives us the opportunity to re-discover this mode of transport. Through a variety of actions, we will use this occasion to help rail realise its full potential. I invite all of you to be part of the European Year of Rail.”