Promoting sustainable mobility: Parliament names 2021 as European Year of Rail 

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On Tuesday, Parliament adopted the decision to make 2021 the European Year of Rail and to promote rail as a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport.

The decision was adopted with 684 votes in favour (9 against, 2 abstentions).

Events, campaigns and initiatives will take place throughout 2021 as part of the Year of Rail. These will endorse the creation of a Single European Rail Area for passengers and freight, encourage investment in infrastructure, and campaign for the rights of rail passengers. During the year, the European Commission will also consider setting up a rail connectivity index and launching a European label to promote rail freight.

As one of the most environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient modes of transport, rail also has a significant role to play in achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Rail accounts for only 0.5% of EU greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

“It is fantastic to see such broad European support for rail as the green and innovative backbone of our transport system. The European Year of Rail will deliver tangible improvements for passengers and goods travelling by rail. We want to promote investments in modern and digitalised rail infrastructure, improve data sharing and ticketing, and ensure a level playing field between the different modes of transport. The new rail connectivity index will help us to identify gaps in our European rail network and direct new investments to where they are most needed,” said Rapporteur Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg (Greens/EFA, DE).

On Monday, Parliament also held a debate on the European Year of Rail.

Catch up with the debate via VOD here.


Since 1983, the EU has chosen an annual theme to celebrate and bring to the public’s attention. This is intended to elevate the issue in the public conscience, encourage EU-wide debate, and highlight its political importance. The process can lead to new EU initiatives or legislation.

2021 has been designated as the European Year of Rail to stimulate discussion on how railways can contribute to the European Green Deal and the environment. A range of events is planned involving the general public and drawing attention to the challenges that rail faces as well as the opportunities it offers.

Events and activities promoting the Year of Rail will be coordinated by the European Commission. Each member state will also assign a contact responsible for coordination at a national level.