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March 26, 2019updated 12 Mar 2019 4:04pm

In pictures: Noah’s Train, the new climate-minded mobile artwork

Noah’s Train, the longest mobile artwork in the world, visited major hubs in Europe earlier this year to promote sustainable transport and the much needed shift from road to rail freight. Here’s a look at its trip across from Poland to Belgium and the warm welcome it received at every station.

By Adele Berti

Departure: Katowice, Poland

The Polish city of Katowice was the starting point for the project, to coincide with the World Climate Conference that took place here in December 2018.

Organised by Rail Freight Forward, the initiative involved partners including PKP Cargo, DB Cargo, SNCF, Lineas and the Rail Cargo Group, who united on this project to promote a shift of rail’s share of freight transport from 18% to 30% by 2030.

The departure event was attended by representatives of all participating companies, who used the event to further stress the importance of taking cargo off the road. They also jointly called on European policymakers to create the necessary external conditions to drive a modal shift from road to rail.

Vienna, Austria

About a month after leaving Poland, Noah’s Train reached its first stop, the Austrian capital of Vienna.

The location wasn’t a casual choice: as Federal Minister Norbert Hofer explained at the train’s arrival, Austria is a pioneering country in the field of sustainable transport, having a modal split of around 30%.

As a cheering crowd gathered to welcome it, the train was left in the hands of prominent Austrian street artists, who spray painted two of its containers. Being inspired by Noah’s Ark – as Rail Freight Forward puts it, the “oldest story of environmental protection” – the cars were decorated with colourful images of wildlife and nature.

Berlin, Germany

On its way towards becoming the world’s longest mobile artwork, it took the train a solid ten days to arrive in Berlin after passing through major German hubs like Frankfurt and Halle.

Here, the city’s world-famous graffiti community gathered to paint two new containers before it left again heading to Paris.

Speaking at the train’s arrival in Berlin, Dr Roland Bosch, the CEO of signatory company Deutsche Bahn, said: “The decarbonisation of transport can only succeed if we put more freight on the rails.”

Paris, France

Noah’s Train reached the City of Lights at the beginning of February. Continuing on the work of their predecessors, street artists from the French capital were invited to decorate two wagons before the railcar left again for its journey through Europe.

In an interview with Rail Freight Forward Europe, Sylvie Charles, CEO of TFMM Rail and Multimodal Freight Transport, said: “Today’s freight transport in Europe equals 275m tonnes of carbon emissions every year. We urgently need to do something about it.

“The solution exists, and it’s about making more use of rail freight. We need an increase in awareness from the public, which is why Noah’s Train is an invitation to having more freight transport via rail.”

Brussels, Belgium

The train arrived in Brussels, its final destination, on 20 February after briefly stopping in Antwerp for offloading.

While on its way to Belgium, Swiss rail operator SBB cargo announced plans to exhibit a similarly decorated mobile container at the Transport & Logistik event that will take place in Munich next June.

Having completed its journey, the sustainable train will now be shipped to Chile, the country that will host the next climate conference later in 2019.

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