The desolate state of European railways

“From road to rail” has been the mantra of authorities across Europe for decades. The EU’s railway packages since 2001 were designed to open the railways to competition; to connect national railways to make them a coherent whole; and to bring much more freight and many more passengers onto the tracks.  

This has not happened. Less than 20% of freight is transported via rail. A fraction of international travel happens by train. It is more difficult to travel by railways through Europe today than it was before all these reforms. And the urgency for real change grows by the day: transportation is one of the major contributors of greenhouse gases. Climate neutrality — which the EU aims to achieve by  2050 — is impossible without a major shift.

Investigate Europe’s reporter Attila Kálmán speaks with Sindhuri Nandhakumar while reporting for this investigation, explaining the team’s findings.