The EESC welcomes the proposal of the Commission and supports its goals, in particular to encourage and support the European Union, Members States, regional and local authorities, social partners and market forces to increase the share of rail in passenger and freight mobility.
The EESC considers that the European Year of Rail will have to bring the broad public of citizens, railway workers, social partners, businesses and academic communities, and European youth in particular closer to the public debate of the EU institutions on EU sustainability and mobility policies and on the future of European mobility to promote rail as a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport.
The Year of Rail for the EESC should be an opportunity to communicate on the sustainability credentials of railways, also where available as a suitable replacement for short-haul flights, on the Strategy for Smart and Sustainable Mobility as well as on the EU rail investment policies.
The EESC recommends during the European Year of Rail to assess the quality of rail services and, if necessary, adapt them to the needs of users so that they meet the criteria set out in Protocol°26 on services of general interest annexed to the TFEU, to develop projects that promote a holistic approach to accessibility, to reinforce the link between digitalisation and sustainability, to exchange with the community of investors on possible initiatives against the background of the Commission's sustainable finance action plan.
The EESC calls for initiatives under the European Year of Rail to re-gain the trust of customers in public transport, and rail especially, to communicate better, especially to young Europeans, the attractiveness of a career in the railways, by supporting joint initiatives with social partners, universities, the academic community at large as well as European youth organisations.