In a festive ceremony in Brussels on 20 January, the European Railway Award 2009 for political achievements was presented to the Swiss Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger. Bengt Sterner, a leading rail engineer from Sweden, received the European Railway Award 2009 in the category for technical achievements, Infrasite.net reported.
With the European Railway Award, the European rail sector honours outstanding political and technical achievements in the development of economically and environmentally sustainable rail transport. First presented in 2007, the European Railway Award 2009 attracted more than 300 guests from all over Europe, including high-level politicians and transport stakeholders.
The Swiss Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger received the European Railway Award 2009 for his political dedication to encourage modal shift from road to rail in Switzerland. The prize was handed over by the European Commission’s Vice-President and Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani and CER Vice-Chairman Mauro Moretti. In his laudatory speech, Antonio Tajani underlined the role of Moritz Leuenberger in introducing the Swiss Heavy Vehicle Fee in the 1990s. He also pointed out: “The Swiss have not only relied on using financial incentives to make transport more sustainable. They also opened the rail market to competition, being convinced that this way the railways will become a more efficient and a true alternative to road transport. In addition, the Swiss have consequently promoted rail interoperability to make the rail system stronger, increasing the possibility to operate in the EU and thus boosting the traffic and the competitiveness of rail transport.”
The European Railway Award 2009 for technical achievements was presented to the Swedish rail engineer Bengt Sterner by UNIFE Chairman Hans-Jörg Grundmann. As one of the chief architects of the electronic train control system ERTMS, Bengt Sterner has largely contributed to the development of rail interoperability, Hans-Jörg Grundmann emphasised. “Bengt Sterner can truly be called a founding father of ERTMS and the railway industry, rail operators and infrastructure managers are extremely proud to recognise his achievements with the European Railway Award 2009.”
The European Railway Award is organised by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and the Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE). Johannes Ludewig, CER Executive Director said, “Europe is witnessing a revival of rail as the most environmentally friendly major mode of transport. This green revival does not come from nowhere. It heavily relies on personal achievements which are often not sufficiently acknowledged. With the European Railway Award we put the spotlight on extraordinary key players like Moritz Leuenberger and Bengt Sterner and say thank you for their lasting support and dedication in developing sustainable rail transport in Europe.”
Michael Clausecker, UNIFE Director-General said, “When one levels the playing field and all transport modes are treated equally, only rail transport can sustainably foster economic growth, only rail can answer the growing mobility demands of passengers and goods, and at the same time only rail can play a huge part in tackling climate change and in reducing CO2 emissions. No other transport mode comes close! The winners today long ago recognised this, and today we in the rail sector proudly recognise them for their achievements in promoting rail transport and looking to the future.”