FEB.27.2013 – The award ceremony, was held last 26 February 2013, by CER & UNIFE the european association for railway in Brussels.
The european railway award honours outstanding political and technical achievements in the development of economically and environmentally sustainable rail transport. The award comes with prize money, which is donated to charity organisations of the laureates’ choice. The jury consists of CEOs of railway and rail industry companies as well as political decision makers.
Keynote speaker of the gala evening once more was European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, who outlined key points of the recently released Fourth Railway Package. In his speech, he highlighted that “Europe’s railways are on the brink of perhaps the most radical change in their history. The idea of having a real ‘European railway’ to join up our continent is very much alive. But we need now to take some radical decisions to restructure Europe’s railway market to encourage innovation and the provision of better services. Rail will then be able to grow further, to the benefit of citizens, business and the environment.”
Representing the European Parliament, MEP Brian Simpson (S&D, UK), Chairman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, remarked that “This Fourth Railway Package is an important piece of legislation for the future of European railways. It is important in my view to keep both the political and the operational elements of this proposal together in a package and for us all to make a great effort to deliver a coherent set of reports that will lay down the foundations for a bright future for our railways.”
CER Chairman and CEO of FSI Mauro Moretti explained: “We fully support the European Commission’s proposal to reform the European Railway Agency and the opening of the railway market to competition. It is very important to simplify the authorisation procedures for railway subsystems and to have a European safety certificate for railway undertakings to allow a free flow of trains as it is already for aviation and road traffic. However, we have strong doubts about the governance and the PSO regulation.”
UNIFE Chairman Henri Poupart-Lafarge added “The European rail industry fully supports the Commission’s vision put forward in the Fourth Railway Package and is committed to make rail transport more reliable and sustainable for the benefit of the customers. In order to make this reality we have joined up forces in SHIFT2RAIL, the first European initiative to deliver focused research and innovation in the rail sector through radical step changes.”
Benedikt Weibel had a major influence on the strategic direction of the Swiss Federal Railways in his fourteen years as CEO. He oversaw systematic and successful progress in long-distance, regional and international services, always focusing on customer needs. Under his leadership the density of trains per line kilometre increased by 25%. When accepting the award, Benedikt Weibel, stated: “30 years ago the Swiss Federal Railways SBB launched the project Rail 2000. The ambition was to optimize the sum of all journey times on the whole network. After 20 years of project work and an investment of about nine billion SFr the new system was inaugurated in December 2004. Since then public transport is a real alternative in Switzerland. The offer is extremely simple: there is a train or bus from everywhere to everywhere, the same time every hour and often every half an hour, from early morning to late evening. In consequence the frequencies developed enormously.”