Woman with EU flag on a platform in Europe

More Europe for Rail. Europe Day is on 9 May.

May 9, 1950 is considered the birthday of today's EU. On this day, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed in a speech the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), whose members would pool their coal and steel production. This became reality one year later. It was a real success story.

Since then, there have been no more wars between the member states. In the decades that followed, more and more areas were transferred to a supranational level. A process that is still far from complete.

"National" rail

The EU is based on four liberties: the free movement of persons, services, capital and goods. So it would be logical to think more European in rail transport as well. The reality, however, is usually different. There is hardly a sector that is still as nationally oriented as the railways. Admittedly, the EU Commission has the will to change this. There are also numerous European institutions and plans. But where possible, many member states are still blocking the way.

Slowly growing together

Let me give you an example. Within the framework of the freight corridors, in which ministries and railway undertakings are represented, attempts have been made for some years to shorten border waiting times, eliminate communication deficits and make train path allocation more customer-friendly through international coordination. The harmonisation of regulations also plays a major role. This is the only way Europe can grow together on the rails.

"What looks simple in theory is tedious in everyday life. Different mentalities and interests of the countries, but above all the right of veto in voting, often stand in the way of necessary changes. However, we at ÖBB-Infrastruktur are constantly pushing for more progress," says Harald Hotz, Head of European Corridor Management, Asset Management and Strategic Planning.

Thinking more across borders

Right now there are great opportunities for the railways in Europe. The Recovery Plan or the European Green Deal make large funds available for environmentally friendly transport in order to be able to achieve the ambitious climate targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The future belongs to the railway as a sustainable means of mass transport in the EU. To this end, we are gradually overcoming national perspectives. More Europe for the railways benefits everyone! That is what Europe Day stands for.