Ukraine and digitalization: conclusion from the meeting of CER and Europan railway CEOs

Ukraine and digitalization: conclusion from the meeting of CER and Europan railway CEOs
@ÖBB Knopp

Around 30 railway CEOs accepted the invitation of Andreas Matthä, ÖBB CEO and President of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) to participate in a summit in Vienna.

Andreas Matthä, the ÖBB CEO, summed up: "Our CEO summit was intense, productive, and enriching. In addition to the international exchange, it was particularly important to me as the host that we agree on common positions and plans for the future. This was successful: With not one but two declarations, European rail bosses are sending strong and common signals to EU decision-makers."

The European rail CEOs agreed that digitization is the key factor for the future success of the rail system. The declaration states that digitization will help the European rail system to develop further and thus make it more competitive and resilient. This would make a significant contribution to achieving the aims of the Green Deal. Therefore, the declaration contains measures for a common future of the European railway in the following areas:

  • "smart technology" and "smart technical operations", where the European railways want to cooperate at a technical level to jointly optimize rail capacities and thus their competitiveness compared with road transport. One joint project resulting from this is, for example, the Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC)
  • "smart infrastructure," where rail infrastructure is to be designed in such a way that cross-border rail traffic through Europe is simplified and there is more rail capacity for both passenger and freight traffic. Passenger and freight transport itself should also become "smart" - and be harmonized through cooperation, even across national borders
  • "smart ticketing," where the European railways are committed to the joint CER Ticketing Roadmap, which, among other things, is intended to make it easier for passengers to book international train tickets
  • "smart human resources," to get employees on board with the path to the digital future at an early stage
@ÖBB Knopp
@ÖBB Knopp

The heads of leading European railway companies declared their solidarity with Ukraine and promised support for the Ukrainian Railways as well.

DB CEO Richard Lutz: "The Ukrainian railway workers are doing an impressive job. They are keeping the country running. Despite the repeated attacks on lines and stations, operations are continuing. Because only a functioning railway system will be the key to the country's future reconstruction, Ukraine needs sufficient funding and, in parallel to the process of admission to EU membership, integration into the trans-European transport network."

They adopted a statement in which they in addition declared:

The rail CEOs pledge solidarity and support for Ukraine - especially for Ukrainian Railways. European railways have already been actively involved in transporting displaced persons, as well as providing them with supplies, and several joint initiatives have also been successfully implemented for the delivery of relief goods. Due to the restructuring of traffic flows, the railways are also facing particular challenges in freight transport, especially in the transport of raw materials and grain, and are relying on cooperation in this area.

The joint declaration emphasizes the solidarity of the partner railways in Europe as well as common European values. On top of this, the rail CEOs want to clearly emphasize the importance of the Ukrainian rail infrastructure as the backbone of the humanitarian corridor for displaced people and aid supplies such as food and medical products. This is just one reason why the European railways want to continue to show support and solidarity with Ukrainian Railways.

The European railway bosses agree that they must work together to rebuild the railways and their infrastructure after the end of the war. The railways want to contribute to this with urgently needed materials but also with technical know-how. In addition to this, the European railways are united in appealing to the EU to establish a "Rebuild Ukraine" fund. Here, funds should be made available quickly and unbureaucratically specifically for the railways and rail infrastructure in Ukraine. After all, a functioning European rail network is essential for a functioning European economy.

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