Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), Former EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc has been awarded the “Rail Champion” prize for her work promoting women in transport professions.
The “Rail Trailblazer” prize has gone to a project by Danish State Railways (DSB) pioneering a new train operator profile for their S-trains.
Both were honoured at the 2024 European Railway Award ceremony in Brussels.
This is jointly organised by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and the European Rail Supply Industry Association (UNIFE).
It was the 17th edition and marks the European Year of Skills. First organised in 2007, the European Railway Award celebrates and recognises outstanding contributions to the rail sector.
The 2024 Award ceremony attracted hundreds of guests from across Europe, including local, national, and EU-level politicians and transport stakeholders.
The awards ceremony took place at Belgium’s Royal Museums of Fine Arts and was opened by European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Maroš Šefčovič and Georges Gilkine, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mobility.
Šefčovič said: “Greening mobility must be the new licence for the transport sector to grow.
“There is no doubt that Europe needs a strong railway system to maintain its competitiveness, while also staying on track to reach our climate and biodiversity targets.
“A successful implementation of the European Green Deal in the transport sector depends greatly on the development and innovation of the rail market.”
Representing the Belgian Presidency of the EU, Gilkinet said, “In a groundbreaking move towards a sustainable and connected future, the recent agreement on the Trans-European Transport Network Regulation provides a clear, long-term vision for European railway infrastructures. Such a vision needs substantial financial resources.
“This is the reason why the Connecting Europe Facility Program is pivotal, requiring a well-financed third CEF call to support our ambitions and address the imminent challenges posed by global warming, as our infrastructure faces the heat, both literally and metaphorically.
“We must wisely invest to reach both our economic and environmental goals.
“To do so, attracting diverse talent is crucial for the sector’s future, and I applaud recent agreements, such as the European Social Partner Agreement on Women in Rail, while stressing the importance of inclusivity for a sustainable and vibrant railway industry.”
The European Railway Award’s Rail Champion title is an honorary recognition jointly bestowed by the two associations.
With this year’s prize, CER and UNIFE wished to recognise the efforts of former European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc to bring more diversity to transport professions, where women have long been underrepresented.
Ms Bulc notably spearheaded the Women in Transport Platform for Change, a stakeholder forum that exists to this day and continues to give real impetus to the issue.
Her call to attract more women to careers in transport resonated with the rail sector, which has in recent years redoubled its efforts to increase the number of women working in rail, leading to tangible results.
Bulc said: “I am deeply honoured and profoundly touched by the award given to me by the railway community, which I perceive as a testament to the dedicated efforts of the entire transport ecosystem during my tenure. It is also a tribute to the collective excellence of President Juncker’s team. Transport serves as the vital thread connecting communities and fostering relationships.
“When transport functions seamlessly, society thrives; conversely, when transport stops everything stops. Therefore, those working in the transport sector bear the weight of society on their shoulders. Railways, in particular, play a leading role within the sector in crucial areas such as environmental sustainability, safety, and facilitating a modern lifestyle.
“While on the move, passengers can enjoy a comfortable space for work, conversations, relaxation, and the enjoyment of scenic views, minimizing the hassles of travel to city centres. It is also undeniable that railways play a pivotal role in the efficient movement of inland cargo within the EU single market and beyond, contributing to the success and competitive positioning of businesses of the European Union.