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European Year of Rail (2021)



Decision (EU) 2020/2228 on a European Year of Rail (2021)


In line with the objectives of the European Green Deal (see summary), the main aim of the European Year of Rail is to encourage and support the efforts of the European Union (EU), EU countries, regional and local authorities and other organisations to increase the share of passengers and freight moving by rail.



The decision has a number of specific objectives, including:

  • to promote rail as a sustainable, innovative, interconnected and intermodal, safe and affordable mode of transport, specifically by highlighting the role of rail:
    • as a game changer helping to achieve the EU’s climate-neutrality objective by 2050,
    • as a pillar of an efficient logistics network, capable of guaranteeing essential services, even during unexpected crises,
    • as a transport mode that reaches out to the wider public, especially the young, including by presenting rail as an attractive career opportunity;
  • to highlight the European, cross-border dimension of rail, which brings citizens closer together;
  • to enhance the contribution of rail to the EU’s economy, industry and society;
  • to promote the key role of railways in international passenger transport within the EU and beyond;
  • to contribute to implementing the fourth railway package and to raising awareness of the measures required to establish the single European railway area (see summary), based on a properly functioning trans-European transport network.


A number of measures at the EU, national, regional and local levels are planned to achieve these objectives. They will be coordinated with existing efforts to promote rail transport. These measures include:

  • initiatives and events to promote debate, build a positive image, raise awareness and facilitate the engagement of citizens, businesses and public authorities to increase trust in rail, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, and to promote the attractiveness of rail for the transport of more people and goods as a means of combating climate change;
  • initiatives in EU countries to encourage, in both the public and private sectors, business travel and commuting patterns by rail;
  • informative exhibitions and inspirational, educational and awareness-raising campaigns.

The European Commission will also consider feasibility studies on:

  • creating a European label to promote goods and products transported by rail to encourage businesses to switch their transport to rail;
  • introducing a rail connectivity index, with the aim of categorising the level of integration achieved through the use of services on the rail network and showing the potential of rail to compete with other modes of transport.


It has applied since 29 December 2020.


For further information, see:


Decision (EU) 2020/2228 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 December 2020 on a European Year of Rail (2021) (OJ L 437, 28.12.2020, pp. 108-115)


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — The European Green Deal (COM(2019) 640 final, 11.12.2019)

Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 establishing a single European railway area (OJ L 343, 14.12.2012, pp. 32-77)

Successive amendments to Directive 2012/34/EU have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 08.03.2021