(Below) L-R: François Bausch, Luxembourg's Mobility Minister; Henrik Hololei, Director-General for Mobility and Transport at European Commission; Credit: CFL / Patrick Flammang

After crossing 24 countries in Europe, the Connecting Europe Express (CEE) made a stop in Luxembourg on Tuesday 5 October 2021.

With the symbolic act of a flag exchange between Henrik Hololei, Director-General of the European Commission's department for Mobility and Transport, and François Bausch, Luxembourg's Minister for Mobility and Public Works, the train received a warm welcome at Bettembourg station.

The CEE is an initiative of the European Commission in the Year of Rail 2021 that shines a light on the advantages of rail transport as a safe and sustainable means of transport for both passenger and freight traffic. Since its departure from Lisbon on 2 September 2021, the train has crossed several borders and made over 100 stops, demonstrating the interconnectedness of the European rail network but also the challenges that rail players have to face in order to make rail transport more efficient.

The reception of the CEE train in Luxembourg was organised by the CFL in cooperation with the Ministry of Mobility and Public Works and the European Commission. This event marked a symbolic milestone for rail players to unite in Europe under a common message: rail, as a sustainable and reliable means of transport, makes a valuable contribution to achieving climate goals. Nonetheless, the same rail players are dependent on the support of the European Union (EU) and its citizens in order to strengthen the European rail network and make rail the preferred means of transport in Europe.

Those present at Tuesday's CEE event also had the opportunity to visit the Intermodal Terminal Bettembourg-Dudelange. This intermodal terminal enables the environmentally-friendly modal shift of goods from road to rail via vertical and horizontal transshipment technologies, thus avoiding the emission of 157,000 tons of CO2 annually.

At the concluding conference, central themes such as intermodal transport, interoperability and strategies for increasing the attractiveness of rail were addressed by various key speakers, representing the railway sector but also the logistics, industry and banking sectors.
Marc Wengler, CEO of CFL, commented: "I am delighted that the Connecting Europe Express train stops in Luxembourg and that this event is dedicated to freight transport. The freight activities of the CFL Group, in particular at the Intermodal Terminal Bettembourg-Dudelange, are committed to fully contribute to the European project to reduce CO2 emissions by offering multimodal logistics solutions in line with market requirements. This day of interchange at the conference shows us how much we need joint and concerted action to move the railways to the center of our logistics chains and thus make them more sustainable".

Mobility Minister François Bausch added: "The connectivity between the three European cities of Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Brussels is a shame. We really have a lot to do in linking these cities to each other. I think the European Commission must really help the countries that cannot afford the necessary investments during the next few years".

Upon arrival at its terminus in Paris, the CEE train will have crossed a total of 26 countries and covered a distance of 20,000 km.