A Letter to the Editor: Post Fit for 55, European Transport is Intermodal, Focused on Hubs, and in the Hands of the Users, But Global Questions Remain

By Dariusz Dybka

Dear Green Mobility Magazine Editor, 

Following your last issue in 2023 on Fit for 55, it has become clear to me that the primary goals of the Green Deal concerning transport have placed significant emphasis on intermodal integration, hubs, and people-centric decarbonisation. No matter the composition of the new EU term in 2024, this approach looks to prevail. Interconnected data sharing, and reduced carbon footprint travel is a new standard. However, we still need to address the logistics and supply chains when it comes to moving goods and people. It is not only DG Move in Brussels but a type of DG Future, with elements of DG ENER, CLIMA and GROW combined. 

Starting with a personal rather than legislative perspective, practically speaking, intermodality means that I, and any European, can now travel with my foldable e-bike across Europe with night trains and long-distance planes when necessary. To make things easier, services such as Booking.com can now act as personal travel agencies, allowing travelers to book hotels, airport transfers, and plane tickets in one place. Combined with online maps, which already suggest the most efficient routes with combined transport, and the Multimodal Digital Mobility Service, the possibilities at our disposal, at the end of our fingertips, are simply becoming endless.

This turns me to my second point: with this paradigm shift in multimodality, we will soon have to look at transport completely differently. No longer will we look at individual transport modes, but we will look at the interrelationship between hubs and nodes. 

Indeed, Centralny Port Komunikacyjny (CPK) in my home country of Poland is an example of how the line between air and rail can, and will, be blurred. Cooperation within the Rail Baltica is another great example of looking beyond a single mode, in this case, high-speed trains with regional transport nodes, across multiple EU member states. 

With megaprojects such as Rail Baltica and CPK, the peripheries will no longer be peripheral, the importance of secondary cities will be perpetuated, and with intermodality, with better-connected hubs and notes, the importance of living in a capital or large city may no longer be as imperative to one’s economic success as it once was. 

Dear Editor, in the 90s, Express Intercity trains in Poland were indeed a rare sight. I remember vividly how challenging and lengthy a seemingly straightforward 170-kilometre journey between Warsaw and Lublin felt, whether by bus or train. Now, with the TET-T map seamlessly linking Europe beyond the dots, previously interrupted connections, like the one between Warsaw and Vilnius, inspire hope for rediscovered connections and EU prosperity. 

Our land, sea, and air infrastructure remain one of our continent’s greatest strengths. The green, just, and strategic recovery, which stretches from Kerry to Kyiv, builds unseen potential, comparable to the initial building of the railway across Europe centuries ago. 

It is a truism, however, that this infrastructure and green transition is built by people, for people. The post-pandemic recovery gave us two options: to continue isolated from one another or to return towards a model based on proximity. Traveler numbers in air and ground transportation seem to suggest that people have rejected the status quo of 2020-2021. 

However, with elections around the corner, both here in Europe and globally, I wonder what else the people will reject or adopt. Just as the adoption of electric cars signifies a willingness to embrace radical technologies and innovations, will the global stance be one that safeguards the dominance of fossil fuels, as witnessed at the recent COP in Dubai? Could Europe and other parts of the world emerge as green islands, characterized by clean and silent mobility, within the otherwise somber expanse of pollution and exhaust? Will North and South America, who have already seen an influx of homegrown and imported EVs from Asia and Europe, truly join the ‘electric club?’. 

Sincerely, 

Dariusz Dybka

EU Public Affairs and Leading Sustainability Advisor, former UNFCCC negotiator, energy transition expert, Managing Partner at Von Kietz consulting in Brussels.

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