The Ceneri Base Tunnel was officially opened on 4 September 2020, marking the completion of the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA). President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga met with delegates from the neighbouring countries on the day before the official event to discuss the importance of international rail transport. The meeting led to the Declaration of Locarno, in which Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland and the European Union affirm the importance of the modal shift from road to rail and the need to work together to develop solutions for international rail freight and passenger transport.
The objectives of the Declaration
The Declaration of Locarno sets out ten objectives in the rail transport sector to which the transport ministers of the signatory states and the EU Commissioner have committed. Recognising the importance of decarbonising the transport sector in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the Declaration attaches major importance to sustainable transport solutions, in line with the Green Deal adopted by the EU and Switzerland’s modal shift from road to rail. To reduce the negative impact of traffic, it is imperative that European countries work together. Ambitious projects such as the modal shift will contribute significantly to Europe’s ability to face the climate challenge.
In the Declaration, the signatories underline the importance of promoting all forms of rail transport – regional and long distance passenger transport services as well as freight transport operations – and strengthening cooperation on European rail freight corridors. Special attention is given to international rail passenger transport, particularly to improving the coordination of timetables and cross-border travel, as well as to developing a simple and customer-friendly ticketing service. The need for closer international cooperation and more uniform measures in international rail transport has been further highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other objectives of the Declaration include modernising and developing rail infrastructures, promoting intermodal and combined transport services, and increasing the interoperability of rail transport services through automation and digitalisation.