On Europe Day, the European Commission announced the route of the Connecting Europe Express as part of the European Year of Rail.
The aim of the train is to demonstrate – in real time – the power of rail to connect people and businesses, and the importance of EU infrastructure policy in making this possible.
Beginning its journey on 2 September in Lisbon, and stopping in more than 40 cities in 26 countries, the train will link the Portuguese, Slovenian and French Presidencies of the Council of the EU, arriving in Paris on 7 October.
“Crisscrossing the continent, from Lisbon to Bucharest and from Berlin to Paris, the Connecting Europe Express will follow routes that bind us together – whether as countries, businesses or people. This train also serves as a reminder that we still have a long way to go and much work to do before rail becomes the transport option of choice for Europeans. Welcome the Connecting Europe Express as it stops at a station near you and join the events taking place around the continent.”
The project involves the European Commission, rail operators, infrastructure managers and numerous other partners at EU and local level. Events at each stop will illustrate rail’s key role and the challenges it needs to overcome to attract more passengers and freight.
Five conferences have so far been confirmed ‒ in Lisbon, Bucharest, Brdo, Berlin and Bettembourg ‒ that will debate the ambitious targets and action plans for rail outlined in the EU’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.
As a reminder of the lack of interoperability between parts of Europe’s rail network, the Connecting Europe Express will have to comprise of three trains in order to fit different track gauges.
The standard-gauge (1435mm) train will consist of six coaches, of which two will feature mobile exhibitions on the technologies that are central to the rail experience and on what the European Union is doing to support infrastructure projects.
The Iberian-gauge (1668mm) train will operate in Portugal and Spain. The final one, a broad-gauge (1520mm) train, will run in the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Both the Iberian and broad-gauge trains will meet the standard-gauge train during their journey.
“Travelling through 26 European countries, the Connecting Europe Express is proof of the importance of the European Year of Rail. I thank all CER members for their involvement in this key project with the European Commission. In order to achieve our climate targets, we need to further strengthen the vitality of rail with more international long-distance passenger rail services and we must also consistently shift freight transport to rail.”
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