From Lisbon to Paris, through 26 countries, in 36 days. The Connecting Europe Express arrived at Skopje’s Railway Station on 13 September, promoting rail as the most sustainable transport that will link people and businesses even better across the continent.
The Connecting Europe Express is one of the key initiatives of the European Year of Rail 2021. The result of a unique cooperation between the European Commission and railway companies from all over Europe, this train aims to draw attention to the many benefits of rail in both the passenger and freight sectors. It also supports the EU's overarching goal set out under the European Green Deal – to encourage a 'shift to rail' in order to decarbonise transport and increase sustainable mobility.
‘This event symbolises the essence of connectivity - better links both within the Western Balkans and between the region and the EU. Transport is a crucial element of the EU Green Deal. Our ambitious goal is to reduce transport emissions by 90% by 2050. And with their potential to decrease CO2 emissions, trains can become the most energy-friendly mode of transport’, said Ambassador David Geer, Head of the EU Delegation, who attended the event together with ambassadors from Member States and local officials.
The platform where the train arrived, together with the rest of the passenger area of the Skopje Railway Station, has been renovated with assistance from the EU. It was part of a five million euro-project that included upgrading of ten other train stations in the country, including Gevgelija’s – the second stop of the ‘Connecting Europe Express’ in North Macedonia, which the train reached in the morning hours of 14 September, on its way to Athens. Since 2007, the EU has invested over 300 million euros in the country’s transport sector.
The ‘Connecting Europe Express’, which also serves as a rolling conference, laboratory and forum for public debate on how to make rail the transport mode of choice for passengers and businesses alike, will complete its 20,000 km-journey in Paris on 7 October.