The European Commission (DG MOVE) is currently conducting an evaluation of the 2011 White Paper ‘Roadmap to a single European transport area – towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’. The aim of the evaluation is to collect and analyse evidence to help assess whether it has achieved its objectives in an effective and efficient manner. EPF as an organisation having expertise relevant to the evaluation, was contacted for an interview and also filled in an extensive questionnaire dealing with our experiences and future requirements. We particularly pointed out the need to think from the passenger’s point of view.

Things have not stood still since the 2011 White Paper, although its three core goals – reducing GHG emissions, decreasing transport’s oil dependency and limiting the growth of congestion – are still to be achieved and, if anything, are of greater relevance. A fourth, implicit, goal has also emerged: the need to address air quality. Transport demand overall is unlikely to shrink dramatically. For EPF, at least part of the solution to the sectoral challenges facing society lies in achieving significant modal shift to more sustainable forms of public transport. But that can only be achieved democratically if public transport can be transformed into becoming the mode of consumer choice for the greater part of end-to-end journeys. This starts by listening to users, recognising the potential of sustainable interconnected mobility, where modes work in combination, each used for that which it contributes best to the dependable and affordable movement of people and goods. The technology opportunity for this is here. Digitalisation has the potential to offer every end-user a mobility solution that is tailored to their own need. Digitalisation will bring greater reliability, efficiency and flexibility to the production, maintenance and organisation of physical transport. It will release significant additional capacity, reduce delays, enable early identification and resolution of potential equipment problems, enhance safety and drive down costs. It will facilitate seamless integration between modes. But realisation of its full potential requires finding a healthy balance between naked competition and constructive collaboration. It means addressing the challenges generated by local trips (most journeys are over relatively short distances and these tend to be the greatest contributors to pollution per km and to congestion) whilst addressing opportunities to gain modal shift when measured in trip-kms by drawing intercity journeys of <1000km from air and road to more sustainable rail. It needs to be asked whether the tools envisaged in the TWP 2011 were both right and sufficient for the task. In retrospect, one of the greatest lacunae appears to be the failure to prepare public opinion for the enormity of the changes required. The lessons of Covid-19 may provide timely and useful exemplars for the purpose.

EPF’s reponse to the consultation can be downloaded here.