Less travel by car and plane, and more by train in the Eurodelta

People in the Eurodelta should be encouraged to travel more by train, and less by plane and car. In addition, vehicles must become cleaner. This is how the European sustainability goals will be achieved, CO2 emissions reduced and air quality in cities improved, according to the conclusions of ESPON researchers in their report commissioned by government authorities who are working in close cooperation in the Eurodelta: the area that lies in the Dutch, Belgian, French and German territory, roughly covering the triangle Amsterdam - Lille - Cologne.

From catching a plane, to taking the train

The first policy measure that the researchers recommend is to introduce a ban on air traffic over distances of less than 500 kilometres within the Eurodelta area. Instead, high-speed trains can be used for travel. The environmental impact, in particular, could be significant: realising 2.5 % of the European Union CO2 reduction target.

More zero-emission zones

The second policy measure the researchers suggest is regarding better alignment of which vehicles and emission standards are allowed in cities in the Eurodelta with more than 100,000 inhabitants. This alignment would contribute to creating a level playing field for cities. The measure would also make it easier for travellers and logistics companies to travel across borders if the same rules apply in all cities. It also represents a potential 20% reduction in CO2, NOx and PM10 in the Eurodelta.

Mobility as a Service

The third policy measure is about increasing the provision of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in the Eurodelta. MaaS enables travellers to plan, book and pay for all transport options in one app. The government can ensure that this makes shared mobility more attractive and accessible, and reduces car use. The availability of public transport can make MaaS a more sustainable solution, together with the creation of smart mobility hubs (places where various transport options converge) and the opening up of data from different providers. The research shows that shared mobility in combination with a metro system can lead to 40% CO2 reduction.

From road traffic to rail transport

The fourth policy measure concerns a shift from road to rail for cross-border passenger transport. In particular, regional cross-border rail transport on the Rhine-Waal, Rhine-Scheldt and Lille-Brussels routes could be improved. These are connections that are often used for commuting. Potential improvements include: better travel information, easier booking of tickets, and better access to data between different transport operators. This is where cross-border cooperation poses a challenge. Rail transport and infrastructure are currently organised by national or regional bodies, and controlled by national authorities.

Working together on sustainable accessibility

The research is an initiative of ten stakeholders within the Eurodelta: The Province of South Holland, the municipality of The Hague, Amsterdam municipality, the Province of Gelderland, Regionalverband Ruhrgebiet, Metropolregion Rheinland, Flanders, Project Ghent Kanaalone, Brussels and Metropole Lille.

The interim research results can be found at www.espon.eu/sustainable-transport. The final results and recommendations are expected to be published on the same site in December 2021.