The European Railway Award 2014 was presented last tuesday to Jacques Barrot, former European Commissioner for Transport, for political achievements and to Giorgio Diana, Researcher and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, for technical achievements.
The ceremony, which took place at the Musées Royaux D’Art et Histoire in Brussels, was followed by the joint CER-UNIFE Annual Reception and attracted more than 500 guests from all over Europe, including high-level politicians and transport stakeholders.
Keynote speaker of the gala evening was once again European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, who congratulated the winners and reflected on his work as Transport Commissioner to improve rail transport, remarking, “If European railways are to become more attractive and competitive, it is in both of these areas that we need to progress. It is why the Fourth Railway Package and SHIFT RAIL programme work so well together.”
Representing the European Parliament, MEP Brian Simpson (S&D, UK), Chairman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, addressed the work of his Committee on Rail Transport under his leadership
UNIFE Chairman Henri Poupart-Lafarge commented on the Fourth Railway Package and thanked the Commission for their work on the SHIFT RAIL rail research initiative, stating, “UNIFE encourages the quick adoption of both SHIFT²RAIL and the Technical Pillar of the Fourth Railway Package, as the innovations and process improvements brought by both these initiatives are necessary to make the sector more efficient, competitive, and attractive.”
Political Award winner Jacques Barrot had a major influence on the development of the European rail system as European Commissioner for Transport from 2004-2008. As Commissioner for Transport, Jacques Barrot shed light on rail public service, public passenger transport services by rail and by road, and strengthened passengers’ rights. Furthermore he supported the liberalisation of the rail transport sector and the development of sustainable mobility through a number of types of aid.
The laureate for the Technical Award 2014, Giorgio Diana, is a world renowned specialist of rail vehicle dynamics. In the past 30 years, he contributed to the advancement of knowledge regarding the running dynamics of rail vehicles and their interaction with the infrastructure, with practical implementations in several new generation trains including the new Frecciarossa 1000.
The laudatory speech for Giorgio Diana was given by Michele Mario Elia, the CEO of Rete Ferroviaria Italiana. When accepting his award, Giorgio Diana remarked, “Innovation is generally proposed and pushed by the research centres: the train operators and the infrastructure management have all the advantages of having innovation in a new product, to improve performance and reliability.”
Each award is accompanied by a donation of €10.000 to the charity of the laureate’s choice. Jacques Barrot gave the prize money to Velay-Burkina Sans Frontières, and Giorgio Diana gave his to the Italian Red Cross.