Credit: MMTP

On Thursday 17 November 2022, Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility and Public Works, François Bausch, traveled to Madrid for a working visit.

Minister Bausch first met Isabel Pardo, Secretary of State for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, for a bilateral meeting.

Minister Bausch welcomed the convergence of views on a large number of subjects of common interest. Discussions focused first on the TEN-T regulation (trans-European transport network) and in particular on the issue of interoperability with the aim of developing the rail motorway network. In favour of sustainable and high-performance mobility, Spain has now made a great effort to switch to European standard gauge on the main axes and thus wishes the support of Luxembourg for the switch to the European system for managing rail traffic (ERTMS) in order to guarantee the safety of rail traffic across borders.

In this same context, the developments of the rail motorways as well as the multimodal terminal projects in progress in Barcelona were also discussed during the bilateral meeting.

Minister Bausch stressed the importance of continuing to invest in the operation of the rail network, even during these difficult times for connectivity favouring the development of the trans-European network. The modal shift from road to rail is an essential element to achieve the objectives of the New Green Deal. Minister Bausch explained: “Today, in the face of climate difficulties, the European Commission and the States must increase investment in rail, a key sector in terms of CO2 reduction for a modal shift in mobility.”

Following the interest of the Secretary of State, the meeting also allowed to discuss about free public transport in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as well as its new national mobility plan 2035.

Minister Bausch also took part in a promotional event for the Luxembourg logistics sector entitled "Rail motorways, an innovation at the service of the Green Deal", which was held at the headquarters of the CEOE (Spanish confederation of companies). In a context for the fight against global warming, Minister Bausch recalled that rail is the most appropriate way to reduce the carbon footprint. "I am convinced that rail, whether for passengers or for goods, has and will continue to have a key role to play in order to achieve the objectives of the green pact and the modal shift", said Minister Bausch during his speech. Luxembourg is prioritising investment in rail infrastructure and supporting innovation and new technologies such as DAC (Digital Automatic Coupling) to ultimately make rail more efficient in the future and to optimise traffic.

At the end of the stay, Minister Bausch attended the 23rd edition of the “Marquis de Villalobar” award ceremony of the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Spain, which this year awarded to the Luxembourg National Railway Company (Société nationale des chemins de fer luxembourgeois - SNCFL) in tribute to the launch of the rail motorway connecting the multimodal terminal of Bettembourg, Luxembourg to that of Barcelona Can Tunis, Spain, the inauguration of which took place in February 2019.

"Today, Luxembourg is proud of its national railway company. This award honours all the people who contribute through their work in making the train more attractive as the main link in the mobility chain of tomorrow. Thus, we can see that the rail motorway linking Luxembourg to Spain is a very good example of rail freight transport that is more efficient than the road. Similarly, this rail motorway contributes above all to reducing truck traffic on the road network and increases user safety. The railway sector remains a formidable tool for creating human and commercial links. I am convinced that at the end of the decade, the creation of a European network of rail motorways going from the Iberian Peninsula to the North of Europe via Luxembourg, is possible. Finally, Luxembourg will continue to invest in the railway sector and in the development of new technologies of the future”, said Minister Bausch during the award ceremony.