Image: Pier Eringa/ProRail

‘More goods by rail’, says new EIM President Pier Eringa

Pier Eringa, the newly-elected President of the Association of European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM), has vowed to do what he can to make international rail travel ‘simpler, cheaper and more sustainable’ for both the freight and passenger sectors.

The CEO of Dutch rail infrastructure manager ProRail said innovation on the track was crucial, and that The Netherlands, as a ‘testing ground for innovation’, was showing what was possible. “The Netherlands is a guide country and testing ground for rail innovations and that, just as in the field of hydraulic engineering, bicycle mobility, automatic cars, the Port of Rotterdam and Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport), we show what a small country can be big about,” said Eringa, who was unanimously elected at the EIM’s General Assembly.

“New train protection techniques (ERTMS), Predictive Maintenance, sensors to make the track less susceptible to interference, circular material use, hydrogen train and the ‘Tesla train’, these are all innovations in which we take a leading role in The Netherlands,” he added.

‘Much more by rail’

Calling for the train to replace the plane for short-haul European trips, he also identified the rail freight sector as having a crucial role to play: “There must also be fewer goods by road and water, much more by rail, because that really helps with climate objectives.” On the issue of technical barriers on the railways, he cited ERTMS as an example: “We have to make the transition from old, expensive rail systems to modern, inexpensive, industrial systems that can talk to each other. In The Netherlands we are already far along with that. ERTMS is a good example of this. By sharing this knowledge with other countries, we can make the railway even more cost-efficient.”

Speaking about his Presidency, Eringa said: Together with my colleagues, I continue being committed to leveraging infrastructure managers’ role. I am keen to make our best practices available to others and learn from them in order to serve our customers even better. We are currently ongoing substantial reforms, triggered by EU legislation but also external factors, such as digitalisation, automatisation and geopolitics.

“In such a constantly changing environment, we need a single actor to represent our interests. Hence, EIM is of strategic importance for me and my company. Together with my colleagues, we will work on seeking a strong, yet future-oriented collaborative dialogue with all relevant stakeholders whilst preparing for the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Exchange of knowledge

The EIM promotes the interests of railway operators in The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain and Norway. Its role is to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and information between the various European rail operators, and does in the areas of innovation, rail corridors, train security, safety, winter measures and reliability. EIM also maintains a vital dialogue with European policy makers and the EU Agency for Railways (ERA).

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a full-time journalist for RailFreight.com – a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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