Tracks close to Terespol station, source: PKP PLK

After Rotterdam Declaration, EU rail freight signs Berlin Declaration

Source: PKP PLK

Following the Rotterdam Declaration signed in 2016, the European rail freight industry today signed the Berlin Declaration. This is a renewed ministerial declaration, showing the commitment of the EU Member States to support international rail freight. Accompanying the Berlin Declaration, the sector also outlined the developments, improvements and challenges of each identified priority action.

The Rotterdam Declaration was signed in December 2016 under the Netherland’s Council Presidency. It was the first such declaration, but formed the basis of EU policy when it comes to rail freight. The sector identified ten priorities, which were presented during the Rail Freight Day. The sector stakeholders decided to work together on the priorities in an integrated way, and in July 2017, they set-up the Sector Statement Group as an information sharing platform. Rapporteurs were appointed for each of the identified priorities.

Four years later

For four years the forces of the Ministries, EU and sector were joined and focussed on commonly agreed priorities for boosting international rail freight. The progress on the priorities and what needs to be done next are described in a practical manner in the Sector Statement, while the Ministries reconfirm their support in the so-called Berlin declaration, explains Ad Toet, who was one of the Sector Statement’s working group pioneers.

Key issues are Digital Automatic Coupling, the implementation of ERTMS with due attention for the investments in on-board equipment, the network’s Time Table Redesign, digitalisation and -last but not least- the continued work on the TEN-T network’s infrastructure including the possibility of running 740m trains. “Because the work on the priority issues extends over many years, it is applaudable that the Member States and the sector have reconfirmed their commitment to the jointly agreed priorities”, said Toet.

Good progress

“We notably welcome the clear commitment of the Member States to agree on a migration strategy for Digital Automatic Coupling and the recognition of the importance of further digitalisation of infrastructure networks, capacity management and allocation”, the Sector Statement Group (SSG) commented.

“The integrated efforts of the sector set in motion a process of tangible improvement for European rail freight transport. There has been good progress in the SSG Priorities during the past years, but there is still room for improvement and closer cooperation, also with Member States and the EU institutions. International rail freight transport is the future of the European Green Deal and the rail sector is committed in enhancing the competitiveness of international rail freight transport business, and improving the quality, reliability and efficiency of transporting goods across Europe, in light of the 2021 European Year of Rail.

The follow-up report of the Sector Statement Group is available here.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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