19 December 2013


ERA_BlogImage_Simpson-JudgeThe 2nd Annual European Rail Congress will be held in London on 11 November 2014. Entries for the annual Rail Awards are being accepted online up until 30 April 2014.

The feedback from our inaugural event has been overwhelming with many requests from European countries to host the 2014 event. Discussions will take place in 2014 with a view to taking it into mainland Europe in 2015.


Our new look judging panel will be chaired by Brian Simpson MEP and includes Matthias Ruete, Director General, European Commission – DG Move; Monika Heiming, Executive Director, European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM); François Coart, President, European Rail Freight Association (ERFA); Marcel Verslype, Executive Director, European Railway Agency (ERA); Alain Flausch, Secretary General, UITP; and Willy Smeulders, Board Member, European Passenger Federation (EPF).

Over 300 of you entered the first ever Awards of the European Rail Congress from 23 countries right across Europe. 10 different countries were represented amongst the winners at last month’s awards ceremony. We look forward to even more of you entering and participating in 2014.

The 2014 awards are now open for entries. The awards entry deadline is Wednesday 30 April 2014, entries can be made online at Our Judges will then decide on the winners of each of the 18 award categories. These will be announced at the European Rail Congress Awards Dinner on 11 November 2014, in London. The finalists will be announced in June.

We all know that rail has the capability to play a key role in any sustainable transport system by offering efficient, safe transport with low environmental impact, and these strengths need to be articulated in the political decision-making process as well as promoted in society. Through further raising the profile of examples of best practice across Europe, the European Rail Congress Awards aims to help influence the wider perception of rail.


Entrants can make their submissions online to the 18 different award categories.

Deadline for entries: 30 April 2014

Entries are welcome from both EU and non-EU European countries.

Award winners will be announced at the 2nd annual Awards ceremony in London on 11 November 2014.

13 November 2013


ERA_BlogImage_Eshot_1113-2The winners of the inaugural European Rail Congress Awards were announced in front of 600 European rail officials at last night’s prestigious Awards Ceremony in London.  The awards were part of the European Rail Congress – a two day industry rail summit and annual rail awards ceremony.


The awards were presented by UK comedian and TV personality Rory Bremner at the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel in London.  A total of twenty awards were given out on the night.

European Freight Operator of the Year went to ERS Railways – a 100% privately owned railway undertaking with five offices in four countries across Europe.  Its modern fleet of 16 E locomotives and over 500 leased container platforms as well as (mega) trailer capable double pocket wagons makes it a major player in the growing European intermodal transport market. So far it has been granted railway licenses in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and it has 450 customers to date.

European Commuter Operator of the Year went to London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL).  LOROL has managed significant growth in all aspect of its operations since taking over the new franchise in 2007 and successfully opened a major extension to its network in South London. There was a 25% growth in passengers  last year – which LOROL has achieved whilst maintaining industry leading levels of punctuality and customer satisfaction.

London Underground beat off competition from Metro de Madrid to win the European Metro Operator of the Year.  LU continues to achieve record-breaking numbers of passengers, service delivery, customer satisfaction and excess journey time reductions.  It is also providing more capacity and higher service frequencies.  This has been achieved in the midst of the biggest ever upgrade programme as well as the 2012 Olympics which saw 35% more passengers carried than normal.


15 October 2013

ERA_BlogImage_SiimI am pleased to be involved as a judge for these inaugural awards that celebrate and highlight outstanding achievements in European rail.

Awards to recognise industry excellence help to inspire others to take similar steps in the same direction and to help newcomers learn from more established operators. Sharing knowledge, expertise and experience is extremely important, not only as a way to disseminate best practice but to encourage innovation to keep Europe’s railways at the technological cutting edge.

These are important times for our industry as we expand and modernise into a seamless continental rail network, building on the achievements of the last decade.

Rail is well suited to cope with the expected increases in transport demand and, as a sustainable way of travel, will help to lessen our dependency on oil and meet the EU’s ambitious but necessary targets on reducing greenhouse emissions.

The award finalists know very well that rail has to move with the times – and they have been instrumental in making sure that it has done so. I applaud all the efforts that the European rail industry has made to improve its efficiency and move passengers and freight users towards the heart of its development strategy.

The finalists also, I am sure, share my own aims. These are to increase rail’s overall attractiveness by improving the efficiency, quality and punctuality of services to be offered across Europe at competitive prices. And of course, keeping our railways safe at the same time.

This is how rail can enhance its position as a real travel alternative – for both passengers and freight.

The Commission’s proposals in the Fourth Railway Package are designed to turn this vision into reality. They focus on interoperability and safety, in particular strengthening the powers of the European Railway Agency; they will extend market opening to domestic passenger traffic; they will reinforce requirements on institutional separation between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings.

It is by working together, sharing ideas and experiences, and by following the example of those highlighted by these awards as industry success stories that we can make all this happen.

15 October 2013

ERA_BlogImage_PolisPolis is the network of European cities and regions striving for innovative transport solutions. In recent years, we and our members have been increasingly involved in initiatives to electrify surface transport at the regional-local as well as the European level.

For example, Polis had a primary role in the launch of the European Electromobility Observatory, the Clean Vehicle Portal, and the Platform for the Electrification of Surface Transport, in which Polis and eleven organisations from across industries and transport modes have join forces.

The Platform, which held its launch event on March 19th in Brussels, calls upon public authorities to support the further electrification of surface transport on the basis of a multi-modal approach. Existing and future electrified public transport infrastructure should serve as a backbone providing charging facilities for electric road vehicles, while also facilitating seamless multi-modal travel.

The statement says that electrification of surface transport is achievable with existing technologies using electrified railways. In the urban and sub-urban context, an expansion of electrified public transport services, including light rail, metro, and trolleybuses, and the successful deployment of light-duty electric road vehicles, buses and other captive fleets as well as electric two-wheelers are within reach now.

An overview on the Polis network agenda and activities on electromobility, including the Platform for Electrification on Surface Transport, will be given during the parallel session “Towards the deployment of integrated electromobility services” at the 2013 Annual Polis Conference on 4-5 December 2013 in Brussels.


26 September 2013

Autumn has arrived and it brings with it the all new European Rail Congress and Awards which are taking place across 12-13th November in London. Delegates are booking fast and excitement is building. If you haven’t already booked your place, now is the time to REGISTER and arrange your travel arrangements.

Siim Kallas, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport will be delivering a keynote speech at the Awards dinner, setting out what challenges lie ahead for the rail sector and for the Commission.  The Summit brings together the key players in the European railway industry to discuss and debate important developments that will determine the future of the European rail sector. Confirmed speakers include the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Brian Simpson MEP, Vladimir Yakunin President Russian Railways; Mauro Moretti Chairman CER; Marcel Verslype Executive Director European Rail Agency and David Martin CEO Arriva.

Rail has strong advantages over other forms of land transport.  It provides efficient, high quality and safe connectivity across Europe; reduces Europe’s emission of greenhouse gases; boosts jobs and economic growth; and facilitates European competitiveness.


26 September 2013


The entrepreneurial leaders of the 19th century in the UK “got” infrastructure.  They understood the importance of connectivity and, in a remarkably short period of time, the foundations were laid for what became the modern, global economy. In one decade, the 1840s, the railway in Britain went from being a small, local means of transport, largely between coal mines and the nearest port, to the national network that we still depend on today. The idea of infrastructure as a key enabler for the social and economic life of a country was born.

Britain went from being a political statement about national identity to being a living reality in which it was possible to travel and trade from one end of the country to the other in a way that no previous generation had been able to. The concept of time was transformed, as was the range of social and business interactions made possible by the new ability to travel and transport goods.

One hundred and sixty years later and everything has changed again – almost.   Technologies and the means of communication, and transport, have multiplied in ways that would not have been conceivable to our 19th century forebears. The world has changed – and Britain has changed, and much for the better.


26 September 2013


Transport fuel demand is projected to increase by 82 per cent by 2050 in line with burgeoning urbanisation. At Thales we believe that game-changing technology and policy innovations could limit this to 30 per cent

Ground transportation networks, high speed and mainline rail, metros and roads are vital to maintaining economic prosperity and welfare in an increasingly crowded world. To meet growing demand, a number of complex needs must be addressed. Growth in rail freight is outpacing passenger traffic. At the same time there is a need to optimise road transport and reduce its environmental impact.

Urbanisation is fuelling rapid increases in demand for transport. In the UK alone, main line rail traffic growth is estimated to increase by 50 per cent by 2020. The world’s urban population is growing by 1.5 million each week. By 2030, 60 per cent of people will live in cities. The estimated number of ‘megacities’ defined as metropolitan areas with a total population in excess of 10 million people is estimated to increase from today’s figure of 22 to 100 by 2050.

Deeper integration between different modes of transport is vital to make true multi modal travel a reality for individuals, communities and passengers in the global workforce who need personalised and real-time information all the way from home to their final destinations.


26 September 2013

ERA_BlogImage_TrevorGarrodWhen you pay for a journey by public transport you also pay for certain rights. Some of these are obvious: the operator will convey you safely from A to B at the time stated. The fare and conditions will be as advertised. Other rights flow logically from these, such as that the operator will have contingency plans if things go wrong including keeping you informed and being prepared to pay compensation in the event of service disruption.

One of the reasons why the European Passengers’ Federation was formed in 2002 was to campaign for such rights at international level.

Several independent organisations for rail and in some cases bus users attended a 2001 Hearing in Brussels on proposed rail passenger rights and subsequently agreed to work together. We have since grown to 34 organisations in 19 countries.

At that stage we were also in agreement that passenger rights should apply not only to the rail sector. They had already been introduced for air passengers and we urged the introduction of similar rights in the bus/coach and shipping sectors. This would help create a level playing field between transport operators. We also pointed out that the longer the journey, especially at international level, the more likely that it would be multi-modal.

A decade on from those early discussions, much has been achieved. Since March this year, passengers on longer journeys by bus and coach as well as by ferry, train and plane have had rights. The system is not perfect – but it is an achievement on which to build.


12 September 2013

ERA_BlogImage_ShowBrochureREGISTER NOW to attend our prestigious Awards Dinner and Summit on 12 and 13 November in London, which brings together the European Railway Sector to showcase and debate best practice.

With EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas providing the keynote speech and top comedian Rory Bremner as host, the Awards Dinner promises to be a highly enjoyable and informative evening.

There is an excellent programme of high-level European speakers confirmed for the two-day Summit across 12-13th November, including the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, Brian Simpson MEP, Vladimir Yakunin, President, Russian Railways; Marcel Verslype, Executive Director, European Rail Agency and David Martin, CEO Arriva. Click here for a full list of speakers.

You can book your places for the Awards and Summit directly online or the team will be happy to register your attendance over the phone. Please call + 44 (0) 207 036 8571 for assistance.



21 August 2013


The inaugural European Rail Summit and Awards is set to bring together members of the railway industry from a range of countries across the continent to discuss current issues that are relevant for rail operators, regulators, suppliers and ultimately the passenger as the end-user that benefits from a well-performing rail industry.

One of the issues that is currently of relevance to the rail industry throughout Europe is the European Train Control System (ETCS) that continues to be  introduced as a new standard. While some countries have been using their own signalling standards and systems for some time now, ETCS provides cross-border interoperability and a common ground for train operators.

In the UK, Richard Tomlin, Signalling Project Manager at Hitachi Rail Europe speaks about the benefits of the European Train Control System (ETCS) and Hitachi Rail’s involvement in this.

ETCS has been discussed in the rail industry, but it is not yet widely known. Can you give us a short introduction to ETCS?

The European Train Control System (ETCS) is a common signalling and train protection system which has been developed in Europe. Trackside equipment, on-board systems and signalling control centres communicate to provide the driver in-cab information electronically. This is particularly relevant for high-speed train services, where automatic protection systems and in-cab signalling information is vital to safe operations. The joint European effort in specifying this system also enables smoother cross-border services, where the need to switch from one signalling system to the other is removed. ETCS is part of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and many systems have already been implemented around the world.