Railway transport is the backbone of sustainable mobility. The modal share of passengers transported by rail in the EU Member States reached 6.9% in 2018. According to the ‘Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy’ high-speed rail traffic should triple by 2050. To make this happen, the TEN-T corridors need to be completed by 2030. More cross-border projects will be needed to integrate all Member States into a European rail system, in turn establishing smooth interconnections for cross-border rail travel across Europe. To speed up the process, the European Commission will propose in 2021 an action plan to boost long-distance and cross-border passenger rail services. The year 2020 has shown that the railway system is not only sustainable and safe, but also very resilient. The post-COVID-19 period is a unique opportunity for railway undertakings to tap the unused potential and develop more rail passenger services, especially in cross-border contexts. Night trains could increasingly compete with short-haul flights and stimulate European tourism, making the increasing supply of international rail passenger services vital for the success of the European Green Deal and for completing the Single European Railway Area (SERA). Recently significant steps have been made in that direction: four big European rail companies are giving night trains a boost. Despite these latter improvements, the degree of competition in the railway sector remains fairly low.
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