26 May 2023


On 12 May, the European Parliament released a report titled "Stress-testing to promote the resilience of EU policies", which focused on how stress-testing policies can help the institution to better contribute to the agenda-setting and law-making process in the EU. This report in particular focused on stress-test conducted on EU rail transport policy.

The stress-test examined four potential future shocks in relation to their impact on rail transport. The first shock is the occurrence of persistent heatwaves in Europe, which can lead to rail infrastructure problems such as buckling rails and structural damage. The second shock considers the EU's prohibition of internal combustion engines in new heavy-duty trucks from 2035, leading to a potential freight shift from roads to rail. The third shock involves a destructive cyber-attack on the European rail traffic management system (ERTMS), highlighting the need for enhanced cybersecurity measures. Finally, the stress-test evaluated the hypothetical scenario of China invading Taiwan and its potential consequences on supply chains and international trade flows. 

The report unveiled various weaknesses within existing policies, including the lack of guidance on implementing life-cycle analysis and climate-proofing in rail infrastructure plans within the proposal for revising the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Regulation. Moreover, the Combined Transport Directive fails to address obstacles related to congestion and cross-border coordination, hindering the transition to rail. Additionally, the current European rail network regulation is ill-equipped to handle significant increases in freight demand. The report suggested actions to reinforce the resilience of rail transport in the EU, such as boosting cross-border rail governance, creating incentives for shifting freight to rail, securing railway operations from cyber-attacks and adverse weather effects, and supporting investment in EU railways. Consequently, strengthening EU rail policies and investing in this critical transportation sector become imperative for ensuring a resilient and sustainable future.

The full report can be found here.