The annual EPF conference was held in, for the season hot and sunny, Stockholm on 7 & 8. June. The two conference days gathered European passenger organizations, public transport operators, politicians and officials at EU level. Almost 70 participants from 12 different European countries took part in the seminars, the excursion and the evening events. Journalists from two of the biggest newspapers in Sweden also attended.
The first conference day started with an introduction by Gerhard Wennerström, CEO of the Swedish public transport industry cooperation organization Samtrafiken, who welcomed the audience to the seminar hall in Kollektivtrafikens hus, which is an exclusive co-working space for public transport actors in the southern part of the Stockholm central station. Wennerström emphasized the enormous media effect the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has created and called for action among the industry, and said we have no time to wrangle.
The following presentations focused on successes and shortcomings in Europe’s early liberalized rail markets. Among the presenters were Libor Lochman – Executive Director CER, Gunnar Alexandersson – researcher in rail liberalization at Stockholm School of Economics, Jakop Dalunde – Member of European Parliament and initiator of legislation to open access train timetable data, Nick Brooks – Secretary General Allrail, Annette Skaarnæs – Commercial director of the state-owned Norwegian ticketing platform Entur and representatives from the railway operators SJ (Swedish state owned operator), MTR and FlixTrain.
The first day included two panel discussions led by a professional moderator Karin Jihde where Bryony Chetwode from TravelWatch SouthWest raised the importance of the passenger perspective in deregulated markets. Libor Lochman was challenged by the moderator and asked why 78% of Europeans never choose trains for cross boarder journeys. Nick Brooks also questioned CER’s defensive statement in the current rail passenger rights regulation recast. The first conference day ended up with an opening dinner in a lovely warm and bright evening.
The second conference day covered presentations about powerful consumer groups and how to improve conditions for vulnerable passenger groups and young people in the public transport sector. Presenters were Elisabeth Kotthaus – Head of Unit for Passenger Rights at the European Commission, Örjan Brinkman – President of BEUC, Lars Strömgren – Vice President of European Cyclist Federation, our own Delphine Grandsart from EPF’s office, passenger representatives from two Danish passenger organizations – the state funded national and professional secretariat Passagerpulsen and the voluntary based passenger network Kystbanen.
The seminars ended up with experiences from a young customer service attendant, from the conference host organization Resenärsforum, and two young InterRail influencers Erika Silén and Marcus Holm who showed videos from their own Youtube channel, which was very appreciated by the audience. The second day also offered a beautiful tram tour from the city center to the park island Djurgården with a vintage tram, just before the closing dinner at the sea side restaurant.
Next EPF Conference will be held in Strasbourg 5 – 7th June 2020.
On the EPF Conference website (www.epfconference.eu) you can download the presentations from the Stockholm conference and you will find more information about next year’s conference further on.