Ken Livingstone and Stefan Haas receive European Railway Award

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CER, EIM, and UNIFE presented the European Railway Award 2011 today to former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone for political achievements and to Knorr-Bremse Austria Managing Director Dr Stefan Haas for technical achievements.

Since 2007, the European rail sector has honoured outstanding achievements in the development of competitive and environmentally sustainable rail transport. The European Railway Award 2011 attracted more than 500 guests from all over Europe, including high-level politicians and transport stakeholders.

As the keynote speaker, European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas spoke of the future of European competitiveness and the critical role that railways will play in confronting tomorrow’s environmental challenges. Addressing the audience, he stated that, “Railways are an essential part in responding to global competition and they should play a major role in reducing the dependency of Europe on fossil fuels and the reduction of our emission of greenhouse gases”.

The former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone received the European Railway Award 2011 for his decision to implement the Congestion Charge in inner London on 17 February 2003, a scheme that was instrumental in setting the example of how to improve the sustainability of transport. Later extended to parts of west London in 2007, the scheme ensures that the transport network as a whole benefits from the charge, as by law all net revenue raised must be invested in improving transport in London.

Transport for London, the city’s transport authority, issued a report in June 2007 which stated that the level of traffic of all vehicle types entering the central Congestion Charge Zone was 16% lower in 2006 than the pre-charge levels in 2002. When accepting the award, Mr Livingstone outlined his thoughts behind the decision to implement such a revolutionary policy. “The London congestion charge has been clearly effective in encouraging people to switch to public transport and less polluting alternative modes of transport. Applying the ‘polluter pays’ principle clearly demonstrates the benefits that can be achieved through the proper charging for external effects of road transport, and I encourage other cities to follow.”

In his laudatory speech, Mr Brian Simpson, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, said: “Giving the award to Ken Livingstone is a recognition of the great political leadership he has shown in pushing through tough transport policy choices which have often gone against the popular tide of thinking. We hear a lot of rhetoric about wanting to get people out of their cars and onto public transport, but Ken Livingstone took the crucial step of putting ideas into practice. He delivered a sustainable transport agenda for London, showing us concrete action that delivered on the EU’s transport priorities of promoting public transport, reducing emissions and tackling congestion in city centres. In introducing the Congestion Charge, Ken Livingstone made London an example to cities throughout Europe and across the world. Ken’s policy saw a 20% drop in CO2 emissions and raised crucial funds to be reinvested in improving the capital’s public transport.”

The European Railway Award 2011 for technical achievements was presented to the Austrian rail engineer Dr Stefan Haas. In a personal laudatory speech, UNIFE Chairman Dr Hans-Jörg Grundmann said “Dr. Haas made the Eddy Current Brake become a successful, reliable and cost-efficient product that has exceeded all expectations by far. With this he contributed substantially to building a Single European Railway Area without market and technical barriers.”

Dr Stefan Haas has significantly contributed to the technical development of railways on both at national and international level, not least of all in his development of the eddy current braking system which has successfully increased the practical opportunities for high speed rail. When receiving the European Railway Award 2011, Mr. Haas reinforced the important contribution that the eddy current brake continues to make in its rail applications by stating that, “the linear eddy current brake represents an ideal supplement of the pneumatic friction brake and of the dynamic brake. It enables the generation of brake forces independent from wheel/rail adhesion, wear free and almost speed-independent. This makes it in particular interesting for the employment in high-speed traffic. Their employment reduces apart from wear also fine dust and sound emissions of the vehicle and is characterised thus also by their environmental friendliness.”

In opening the ceremony, CER Chairman Mauro Moretti highlighted the fact that the rail sector has defined its challenges and priorities for the near future. “Among others, we will focus our efforts to further expand the European high-speed network creating cross-border links, and at the same time provide operators with an efficient, high-quality freight transport infrastructure. In addition, CER’s members have already agreed to reduce CO2 emissions from trains by 30% by 2020, and we are now striving towards offering carbon-free rail services by 2050.”

In his address on behalf of Luc Lallemand, Vice-President of EIM, EIM Executive Director Hendrik Abma said, “The rail sector fully endorses the Commission’s vision that rail and inland waterways should take most inland freight on long distances and a majority of medium distance passenger traffic. The success of rail corridors is vital for trade and industry in Europe. In particular, infrastructure managers are committed to turn rail freight corridors into the backbone of European freight transport.”

The European Railway Award is organised by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM), and the Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE). In previous years, the European Railway Award was awarded to late Transport Commissioner Karel van Miert (2007), Swiss Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger (2009), and former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez (2010) for the political category. Technical category laureates were Jean Dupuy, former President of SNCF (2007), Swedish rail engineer Bengt Sterner (2009) and Roland Heinisch, former Chief Engineer and Member of the Board of DB (2010).

The European Railway Award regularly honours outstanding political and technical achievements in the development of economically and environmentally sustainable rail transport. The award comes with prize money of €10,000 each, which is donated to charities of the laureates’ choice, in this case Knorr Bremse Global Care and Oxfam’s initiative for flood relief in Pakistan.

The jury for the European Railway Award 2011 consisted of CEOs of railway and rail industry companies as well as political decision makers, including Brian Simpson, Chairman of the Transport Committee in the European Parliament, Matthias Ruete, Director-General of the European Commission’s DG Transport and Energy, Klaus Gretschmann, Director-General of the European Council’s DG for Transport, and Jack Short, Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum.

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