Several studies have been commissioned in recent years in Europe regarding the development of a European-wide, competitive, and efficient transportation system. The majority of these studies have led to visions towards a new culture of mobility that includes rail as a very significant component of the system. The approaches presented by researchers and industries ranged from very technical visions to holistic concepts, calling for the implementation of a policy that emphasizes rail development within the context of spatial planning and integration with other modes of transport.
LivingRAIL will develop scenarios on the state of living style, cultures, mobility and economic activities in Europe by 2050 and explore a vision on the future role of the environmentally friendly, electrified railways within them.
LivingRAIL will elaborate prospective and normative scenarios investigating possible evolutions leading to a reduction of the environmental harm of transport and in the same time to increase or at least maintain our quality of life. The scenarios will be detailed by trends in society, policy, economics, spatial planning, urban development, technology and transport sector operations to gain profound understanding of the sector interrelations. With the help of these detailed assessments the project will elaborate a rail map out of alternative pathways to approach the 2050 vision from todays situation.
Based on today’s best practice the analytical work will investigate how the railways and related transport modes can develop technically and in organisational and operational terms to achieve the 2050 targets and how spatial and urban planning, transport policy and other areas can contribute to achieve the 2050 targets. A broad set of interviews and workshops using visioning and road mapping techniques will be conducted.
LivingRAIL will foster an intensive dialogue between politics, rail sector, spatial planning actors and civil society to develop jointly technology pathways and feasible organisational options to implement the vision 2050. The target groups: political decision makers, railways, rail supply industry, transportation providers, spatial planning authorities, transport associations, passengers organisations and academia will be involved in the dialogue process from the very start. Thus the LivingRAIL results will be checked in the reality and that will substantially increase their practical importance and pave the way towards implementing the finding.
The LivingRAIL team was able to identify many good practices helping the railways in Europe. These are, however, not sufficient to return the European railways to a growth path. Only with the interplay of targeted and coordinated action by the rail sector, policy, business and citizens the objectives of the EC Transport White Paper of 50% rail share in key markets can be approached.
The application of the ASTRA transport models showed that increasing rail speeds alone without considering the whole transport and travel chain from door-to-door just brings about two to five percentage points, while lower relative prices of the railway may gain up to 10 percentage points of rail market share in Europe. By far the largest effects, however, will be achieved by accompanying or “soft” measures. These include a strategic transport, spatial planning, and urban planning, targeted customer orientation or quality and cost improvements by standardisation and automation of processes. These steps need to be fully supported by EU, Member States and the rail sector to overcome protectionism and foster the modernisation of the rail sector.
Without massive investments into the European rail networks the objectives of the EU White Paper will remain out of reach. Total costs of investments and accompanying measures from now to 2050 are estimated between 1300 and 2000 billion euros. On the other hand, rail user contributions may range between 1300 and 2500 billion euros, and a moderate cross-subsidisation by road and air charging may contribute another 3500 to 7000 billion euros. Although investment costs are due before revenues start rising, in the long term we can expect stable funding models for a fail focussed European transport system.
The social benefits would be enormous. With a 50% market share of the railways, GHG emissions would be cut by 45%, which brings Europe three quarters towards the 60% reduction target postulated for transport by the White Paper. In addition, air pollutants would be reduced by 80% and we could expect 25% less road casualties.