European Commission white paper sets out radical vision for transport
Transport 2050 presents the Commission's thinking on all modes of transport from shipping and air transport to road and rail. The white paper is said to present a comprehensive strategy for a competitive transport system that will increase mobility, remove major barriers in key areas and fuel growth and employment. The aim is to bring about a 60% cut in transport emissions by the middle of the century.
By 2050, key goals will include:
• No more conventionally-fuelled cars in cities.
• 40% use of sustainable low carbon fuels in aviation; at least 40% cut in shipping emissions.
• A 50% shift of medium-distance intercity passenger and freight journeys from road to rail and waterborne transport.
The latter point is broken down further to suggest that the majority of medium-distance passenger transport, defined as "about 300km (186 miles) and beyond", should go by rail. By 2030, the white paper suggests 'That 30% of road freight over 300km (186 miles) should shift to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport and more than 50% by 2050.'
Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: 'Transport 2050 is a roadmap for a competitive transport sector that increases mobility and cuts emissions. We can and we must do both. The widely held belief that you need to cut mobility to fight climate change is simply not true. Competitive transport systems are vital for Europe's ability to compete in the world, for economic growth, job creation and for peoples' everyday quality of life. Curbing mobility is not an option; neither is business as usual. We can break the transport system's dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility. It can be win–win.'
The white paper also proposes that by 2020 the framework for a European multimodal transport information, management and payment system should be established and that there should be a full application of "user pays" and "polluter pays" principles.
ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, which represents car, van, truck and bus manufacturers, was quick to respond: The Commission, unfortunately, signals a policy u-turn,' said secretary general Ivan Hodac, stating that the goals to shift from road to rail and water transport do not take account of the factors determining the choice of transport mode, disregard the role of improving efficiency and do not question the suitability of other transport modes to absorb the capacity.
Meanwhile the EU Goods Transport Liaison Committee of the International Road Transport Union (IRU) has highlighted current failings of the rail network.
In a statement, the organisation said: 'It should be noted that publicly-owned railway holdings, which are also the largest road hauliers in Europe, cannot even shift the goods they carry themselves from road to rail!'
President of the IRU, Alexander Sakkers, said: 'The IRU strongly regrets the European Commission’s choice to promote a forced modal shift to other modes such as rail – which are simply not up to that task – despite previous recommendations of the European Parliament not to do so.'