European Union senior transport policymakers have introduced regulatory changes and support mechanisms for railways amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcements were made on 9 June during the ‘EU’s Covid-19 relief measures for the rail sector’ webinar, which was planned by the International Railway Summit.

The rail sector is said to be on the brink of major financial losses and service disruption due to the pandemic in the near future.

In the webinar, EU Agency for Railways executive director Josef Doppelbauer and European Commission Rail Safety and Interoperability head Keir Fitch recommended different measures for recovery.

These measures included urgent regulatory issues and the legislative agenda for the future.

Alstom chief technology officer Nicolas Castres-Saint-Martin, Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) High-speed Rail and Long-distance Services head Kurt Bauer also gave their interventions.

The moderator for the proceedings was Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) executive director Libor Lochman.

The headline announcement by the EU was the deadline extension of the Fourth Railway Package technical transposition for member states.

Additionally, the package includes additional funding via a reinforced long-term budget for the 2021-2027 period.

Amid the pandemic, the audience polls showed that 75% of them thought that the share of railways in the mobility market would increase or remain the same.

Furthermore, 60% expect that railways would have an increased portion of the freight market.

Bauer added that rail could emerge to a better position after the short-term issues of viability were overcome.

The speakers also stated that environmental sustainability and the European Green Deal were the most important issue for the future of the rail sector.

Doppelbauer added that the end of coronavirus lockdown is the ‘golden opportunity to establish rail as the most relevant transport mode in the EU’.

During the webinar, the ‘Renaissance of Rail Investment’ package by the EU was officially announced.