The European Commission has declared 2021 to be the year of the railway, with the Connecting Europe Express (CEE) train demonstrating the power of rail to connect people and businesses and to highlight EU transport and infrastructure investment policy, according to Railwaygazette.com.
The CEE will depart from Lisbon on September 2 to tour the Member States. Various events will be organized at each stop to highlight the role of the railway and also draw attention to the challenges that railway still has to overcome.
The goals and action plans outlined in the EU’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy will be discussed in Lisbon, Bucharest, Brno, Berlin and Bettembourg. Due to the different track gauges, three separate trains will be used. A standard one, which travels on 1,435-millimeter track, consists of six cars: two exhibition vehicles showcasing railway technology and innovations, a conference car, and passenger cars with dining and sleeping cabins. A wide train for track of 1,668 millimeters will run in Portugal and Spain, and yet another train with for 1,524-millimeter track will run in the Baltic States.
The three trains will visit more than 40 cities in 26 countries, including Hungary twice. The first visit arrives in Sopron from the Slovak capital, from where it continues on the GYSEV network to Szombathely, then to Gyékényes, where it will then leave Hungary. The second time, the CEE will come back from Transylvania via Lőkösháza and travel from Budapest to Košice on MÁV tracks.
Andreas Matthä, President of the European Railway Association (CER) and CEO of ÖBB, said that the vitality of rail in international long-distance passenger transport needs to be strengthened and the shift of freight to rail should be reinforced to protect the climate.
Road transport has significantly pushed the railways into the background in recent decades, while air transport provides a particularly fast transit mode and ships are much cheaper than fixed track. Rail transport, on the other hand, can operate with lower CO2 emissions than all other means of transport. However, it may be necessary to rearrange costs in order to use rail services at a higher rate than now.