THE European Commission (EC), the Austrian government and Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) have launched a uniquely liveried locomotive to support the European Year of Rail.

The ÖBB class 1116 Siemens Taurus locomotive will travel across Austria and neighbouring countries as an ambassador for the campaign, which aims to promote rail as an environmentally friendly mode of transport and encourage modal shift from road transport to rail as part of the European Union’s (EU) plans to become carbon neutral by 2050.  

The locomotive was inaugurated at Vienna Central station during a ceremony attended by Austrian climate protection minister, Ms Leonore Gesssler, EC ambassador in Austria, Mr Martin Selmayr, and ÖBB CEO, Mr Andreas Matthä.  

The locomotive will promote the EU's Year of Rail campaign. Photo: ÖBB.

Transport currently accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. However, rail traffic only contributes approximately 0.4% of all emissions produced, with rail being the only transport sector to report a continuous fall in CO2 emissions since 1990. 

“The European Year of the Rail is an important sign of a climate-friendly Europe - because we are faced with the big question of how we can make transport in Europe more environmentally friendly in the future," Mättha says.

“And there can only be one answer to that: by train! The EU needs more railways so that we can achieve the climate goals, but the railways also need more European support in order to become faster, more digital and more efficient in the future. Driving a train through Europe has to be as easy as driving a truck.” 

“The EU locomotive symbolically shows that we are ready to start bringing rail into the vision of a strong, ecological and cosmopolitan continent," Selmayr says. “I will travel to the Austrian federal states with the EU locomotive together with Mr Paul Schmidt, general secretary of the Austrian Society for European Politics.”