Rail – Europe’s climate solution?(CER/ÖBB)

On 10 October, the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB hosted a roundtable discussing “Rail – Europe’s climate solution?” This event gave attendees a unique opportunity to gain knowledge about the impact of rail business on climate and energy targets.

As the European Union is currently reflecting on the strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emission reductions, the event focused on decarbonisation of the transport sector in accordance with the EU’s commitments in the Paris Agreement.

After a keynote by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU, a panel addressed the policy areas that could promote modal shift in the upcoming years, boosting the competitiveness of the rail sector while leveraging synergies with other modes.


  • Andreas Reichhardt, General Secretary, Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology
  • Bogusław Liberadzki, Vice-President, European Parliament
  • Elisabeth Werner, Director Land Transport, DG MOVE
  • Andreas Matthä, Chairman of the Board of Management (CEO), ÖBB

CER Vice-Chair and CEO of Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB Andreas Matthä said:

“Since summer 2018 ÖBB are using 100% green traction current. That means the electricity mix we use comes from 100% renewable energy sources. This is a good example that railways are an important part of the solution in the fight against climate change. But in order to succeed there are several challenges ahead: we need to strengthen rail infrastructure in Europe and give more support to means of transport with low CO2 emissions. Europe must foster shifting traffic from road to rail, and the rail sector needs fair price structures.”

CER Executive Director Libor Lochman said:

“A low-carbon transport and energy system is crucial to deliver the EU’s climate goals. The European railways are the best zero-emission solution to decarbonise transport – already widely available today. CER urges EU policymakers to come up with an effective action plan that can deliver the emission reductions needed in the transport sector, starting with a binding greenhouse gas emission target as well as realising modal share goals.

Our latest factsheet ‘Put Europe “on track” to achieve climate-neutral transport’ can be downloaded here.


Transport is the only sector in Europe which has failed to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions during the last two decades.

Rail is the exception – it is the only mode of transport which has reduced its emissions while increasing passenger and freight volumes.

(CER/ÖBB Images)

Rail combines energy-efficient mobility with fewer emissions. For instance, rail’s specific energy consumption is 6 times lower than road due to physical advantages such as lower rolling and air resistance; and rail is 9 times less CO2intensive compared to road for freight or air travel for passengers. Moreover, European railways already offer zero-emission transport: 80% of traction is already running on electricity (which is becoming greener).

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