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Brussels, 4th December 2006

Vice-President Barrot meets railway sector stakeholders at the Colloquium on the Future of Rail Transport

The opportunities and challenges of rail transport in a changing economic and social environment: this was the main topic of discussion at the "Mobility in the European Union: what place for rail?" conference organised by the European Commission in Brussels today.

"The share of rail transport has been in decline despite a growing demand for mobility" said the Commissioner. "However, we must not neglect the role of this important transport mode, which can offer solutions to some of our most crucial problems in transport, such as environmental concerns and sensitivity to variations in fossil energy prices" he added.

The main issues addressed during the seminar included:

• Exploration of future long-term mobility trends and the identification transport market segments where rail transport could enjoy a comparative advantage;

• The need to enhance the competitiveness of rail transport and the most appropriate policy approaches to achieve this, in particular through co-modality;

• Challenges for freight rail transport and solutions such as a freight oriented rail network in Europe;

• Opportunities for passenger rail transport to respond to the needs of future generations, i.e. competitive European wide high speed services and socially desirable regional and suburban commuter services.

The need for rail transport to better adapt to market demands and customer requests in order to play a significant role in Europe's future mobility scenario was emphasised. Commissioner Barrot also underlined the importance of the involvement of all stakeholders in the definition of policies for the successful revitalisation of the sector.

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