29 Jan 2014


The European Railway Award 2014 was presented today 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 achievments.

Since 2007 the European rail sector has celebrated and recognised personalities in the political and technical field. 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, “Throughout this time, my aim has been to find and deliver the best combination between policy and technical innovation: the two categories for the European Rail Awards. 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 SHIFT²RAIL 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 and commented, "Without a doubt the biggest obstacle my Committee has faced in it's attempts to deliver a truly European Rail system has come from the Member States; many of whom have rules and regulations from the Steam era that are not only out of date but totally irrelevant for modern railways."

CER Chairman and CEO of ÖBB, Christian Kern commented on the Fourth Railway Package: "The fast approval of the Technical Pillar [of the Fourth Railway Package] will be crucial for higher efficiency in future rail system operations. Technical harmonisation together with high quality infrastructure will pose major cornerstones for further improvements in rail products and services for our customers."

Being CER Chairman since 1 January, Kern added: "The real challenge for the rail sector remains the development of competitive services that customers want with particular focus on punctuality, reliability, and value-for-money. New thinking is needed on the policy side in order to develop the right framework conditions for more competitive rail services, thus allowing the sector to reach its full potential within the wider transport system."

UNIFE Chairman and President of Alstom Transport, Henri Poupart-Lafarge commented on the Fourth Railway Package and thanked the Commission for their work on the SHIFT²RAIL 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.

Sophie Boissard, Vice President Business Strategy & Development at SNCF Group, gave the laudatory speech for Jacques Barrot. When accepting the Award, Barrot commented, “I think that mobility in the single European market will take place increasingly by rail. After a period of decline, rail transport must regain its footing: doesn’t rail now deliver 40% of freight in the US? If we want Europe to lead the international community in CO2 reductions, we must go beyond even that!”

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 Burkina Sans Frontières, and Giorgio Diana gave his to the Italian Red Cross.

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