On 3 February, at the closing session of the “Portugal Railway Summit 2021” conference, organised by the PFP - Portuguese Railway Platform Cluster - under the scope of the European Year of Rail and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Minister for Infrastructure and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, made it clear that the goals of the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, presented recently by the European Commission, will only be possible with “public investment”.
The Minister for Infrastructure and Housing recalled that rail is a major priority of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the transport area and pointed out that this is “the right time to open up wide-reaching political discussion on the future of rail in Europe”.
“It's not just in infrastructure that the State is indispensable. In operations too, with the exception of some high speed services, the market cannot by itself provide the services that society needs in order to work properly and give people the best quality of life”, the Minister emphasised. He is of the opinion that “the time has come to do what has really never been done and assess the results of the Four Railway Packages, not in terms of liberalisation and competition, but in terms of passenger service, of public service, of the public asset that the railway should be”.
Pedro Nuno Santos also argued that there is an “urgent” need to help “the railway undertakings that have had to deal with enormous falls in passenger numbers and in revenue”.
“Railways are a public asset. This is the standpoint we are working from in Portugal and it is from this standpoint that we want to work with our European partners”, he concluded.