Brussels officials have decided to launch the special âConnecting Europe Expressâ train with the aim of showing the strength of the bloc’s unity within the framework of the European Year of Rail. Under the new project, partially funded by the European Union, three new trains will cross the continent, stopping in more than 40 cities in 26 countries.
They will begin their journey in September 2021 before ending in Paris on October 7, 2021.
Three separate trains that correspond to the different rail gauges used in Europe will be used with one on the Iberian gauge in Portugal and Spain.
A second will run on gauges used in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, while a third will run on the rest of the EU network which is standard gauge.
One of the trains will have six coaches and will include mobile exhibits on how the block is supporting infrastructure projects in the 27 Member States.
A sleeping and catering coach will also be included on the trains.
EU transport chiefs also say the project will remind people of the lack of interoperability between parts of the European rail network.
Five conferences have already been confirmed and will take place along the route – in Lisbon, Bucharest, Brdo, Berlin and Bettembourg – inviting discussion and debate on ambitious goals and action plans for rail.
European Transport Commissioner Adina VÄlean said: âCrisscrossing the continent, from Lisbon to Bucharest and from Berlin to Paris, the Connecting Europe Express will follow routes that unite us – whether as countries, companies or individuals.
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âThe UK rail network is one of the most established in the world and Brexit has allowed us to innovate to become a world leader in train travel.â
The EU’s announcement comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said innovations in Britain’s post-Brexit rail network would help ‘rebuild the UK economy’.
Speaking at a panel on innovation in transportation, Shapps stressed that the Department of Transportation âis already leadingâ on electric cars, hydrogen trains, green airliners and is on the move. creating thousands of new jobs in whole new industries.
Mr Shapps added: âBut in a way, this is nothing new. Since the Industrial Revolution, British innovation has always been our trump card – after all, this is where the railways were invented.
âAs we come out of this pandemic, once Brexit is over, we will not be afraid to play this card.
âI’m not ashamed to say it: I actually believe in British exceptionalism, because we’ve always done things exceptionally.
“What was once the world’s workshop can become its laboratory now as a scientific superpower, as the Prime Minister says, for better things to come.”