Carlo Borghini on European Shift2Rail for Freight Transport in the Public Interest

Watch and listen to our conversation with Carlo Borghini, (bio) Executive Director of the European Union's Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking

Shift2Rail is the first European rail initiative to seek focused research and innovation (R&I) and market-driven solutions by accelerating the integration of new and advanced technologies into innovative rail product solutions. Shift2Rail promotes the competitiveness of the European rail industry and meets changing EU transport needs. R&I carried out under this Horizon 2020 initiative develops the necessary technology to complete the Single European Railway Area (SERA). 

Moreover, Shift2Rail has ambitious targets and a robust framework in which to meet them. Specifically, the initiative aims to double the capacity of the European rail system and increase its reliability and service quality by 50%, all while halving life-cycle costs.

Under the leadership of Carlo Borghini, Shift2Rail is implementing a strategy to create a rational, efficient, decarbonized freight system that maximizes the utilization of rail across Europe.

Our conversation starts with a look at the recent history of rail in Europe and compares that shifting landscape to the freight rail business model of US railroads. We explore the concept of "vertical separation", models for competition, the multi-decade process the EU has gone through to create an Open Access system that harmonizes historically disparate infrastructure to create a Single European Railway Area (SERA). 

Then we explore how and why Shift2Rail accomplished its groundbreaking work on determining the external social and economic costs of various forms of transportation.  See their Handbook on External Costs of Transport. 

We close with a discussion of their recently published this Catalogue of Solutions and their next steps.

Here's another inspiring introduction to Shift2Rail by Mr. Borghini:




More links to resources at

Below are some of the graphs and charts from the studies on external costs of transport: 

(HGV = Heavy Goods Vehicle, i.e. large trucks. IWT = Inland Waterway Transport.)


External costs for all of transportation:

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