The European Railway Award 2010 has been presented to former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González for political achievements and to former Deutsche Bahn Board Member Roland Heinisch for technical achievements
Since 2007, the European rail sector has honoured outstanding achievements in the development of competitive and environmentally sustainable rail transport.
Mr Felipe González received the Award for his decision to boost the Spanish economy by making large investments in high speed rail infrastructure. The prize was handed over by the European Commission’s Vice-President Antonio Tajani. In his laudatory speech, Mr Tajani underlined the personal role Mr González played in transforming the Spanish rail infrastructure into one of the most modern systems in Europe: “Giving the European Railway Award to Felipe González is a recognition of the effort undertaken by a whole country, Spain, to keep pace with other EU member states in the field of high speed trains. This modernisation project was also constructed thanks to the intelligent and extensive use of EU structural and cohesion funds.”
Mr González said in a video message that the future of Europe will depend much on the future of the railways: “The idea was to transform Spain. It was a project of modernising Spain, to gain efficiency and productivity, to change from more polluting transport modes to a much more environmentally friendly mode. We made a shift with a certain vision, which was historical. In the past, railways were a response to industrialisation and changing times, and it will be so again in the future. With the dimensions of Europe, rail is the answer, not only for passengers but also for goods.”
Karel Vinck from the European Commission presented the European Railway Award 2010 for technical achievements to German rail engineer Roland Heinisch. As a long-standing member of the executive board of Deutsche Bahn AG and head of the German infrastructure manager, Roland Heinisch has significantly contributed to the technical development of railways both on a national and international level, not least by driving the implementation of high speed connections between France, Belgium and Germany.
Mr Vinck, rail corridor coordinator for the European Commission, said: “The reason why rail has such a potential today is because people like Roland Heinisch have contributed so much, without respite, by their creativity, their innovative capability, their common sense and their extraordinary knowledge accumulated during their long careers. Let us hope that the decision-making stakeholders will build on this experience and set the right priorities and commit the necessary means to give the railway sector a chance to unfold its economic and environmental potential.”
Receiving the Award, Mr Heinisch looked back at his long international career: “My concern has always been to ensure the railways’ ongoing competitiveness on the transport market, including rail’s environmental asets, both at system and company levels. As fascinating as they are, technical concerns were for me never an end in themselves but a means – indeed a pre-requisite – to achieve and end, to make the railways a marketable and competitive prospect.”
The European Railway Award is organised by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the Association of European Rail Industry (UNIFE), and the European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM).