Discussion Paper: how infrastructure managers are helping to create a low-carbon transport system

The new Platform of Rail Infrastructure Managers in Europe (PRIME) discussion paper explores members’ initiatives and projects designed to mitigate climate change and support the transition to a climate-neutral economy. Against a background of increased demand for sustainable transport, the paper will support discussions on how infrastructure managers can help decarbonise transport, tackle capacity challenges, and adapt to the circular economy.

Rail infrastructure managers have a crucial role to play in improving and increasing railway services. If the EU wants to meet its objective of becoming climate neutral by 2050, transport patterns will need to change very rapidly. A strong focus should therefore be on existing rail lines, for instance on capacity gains from digitalisation and operational improvements, such as better cross-border coordination of timetabling, traffic management and works. To the same aim, the ongoing evaluation of Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 on rail freight corridors offers the sector an opportunity to identify possible improvements that would allow infrastructure managers, and the rail sector more broadly, to better serve freight clients through more efficient processes and coordination.

Infrastructure managers can also contribute to decarbonisation by improving their own processes, thereby mitigating climate change. The paper presents a number of existing initiatives, for example addressing green procurement and a circular economy approach to infrastructure components and materials. They demonstrate that maximising sustainability is already a concern for infrastructure managers, and that their actions could feed a broader European reflection.