The formation of the alliance was one of the objectives of the federal government Coalition Agreement and it will work to launch a national regular-interval timetable, increase capacity, enhance competitiveness, reduce noise emissions and encourage digitisation, automation and innovation in the rail sector.

“Today, the rail sector is opening a new chapter in our country,” says Mr Ben Möbius, chief executive of the German Railway Industry Association (VDB). “For the first time, politics, operators and industry are orchestrating a broad alliance for the digital, climate-friendly and customer-friendly mobility of the future. The future alliance must forge a research programme and drive innovation in the market ambitiously.

“The rail industry in Germany is the global leader in low-emission mobility of the future. Innovations need a tailwind so that Germany can continue to play a leading role.”

Möbius says the alliance will first launch a research programme, secondly realise pilot projects in Germany and thirdly strengthen its market position through modern infrastructure, intermodal networking and innovation-friendly tenders.

The VDB says electromobility will be a focal point of the future alliance, even without electrification. “We support the alliance’s approach of bringing all stakeholders together in order to put the vehicle technology and charging infrastructure in close cooperation,” says the VDB’s CEO, Mr Axel Schuppe.

“The challenges are enormous,” Möbius says. “It is high time to seriously promote emission-free mobility.” The VDB notes that the latest report from the IPCC Climate Council, published on October 8, says that human activity has caused about 1°C of global warming. “The IPCC identifies transport as one of the polluters and considers the reduction of the CO2 balance as absolutely necessary in order to reach the climate goals of Paris. Mobility must do more to contribute to climate protection, and rail plays a key role. Already today, rail is the mode of transport with the least emissions. But it has to go further.”

“Innovations increase both the climate advantage and the market share of rail transport,” Möbius says. “That’s what the Rail Future Alliance is all about.”