Montreal Launches New Metropolitan Rail Service (REM), as Eurparl TRAN Committee Heavyweight Outlines Priorities: GMPB

Covered in this summer bi-weekly Green Mobility Policy Brief: EuroParl Transport Committee Lead Budget Negotiator Hints at Priorities; Montreal launches new REM rail service; Mobico plans Eurostar competitor; UK PM urges London Mayor to “think twice” on ULEZ expansion.

Montreal Launches New REM rail service. Montreal’s Réseau express métropolitain (REM) has opened its first branch, connecting Brossard to Gare Centrale. The inauguration ceremony took place with the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. François Legault, Premier of Québec, and Ms. Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal, among others, in attendance. The commencement of this 16.6-km route marks the beginning of a revolutionary network, poised to transform urban transportation in the Greater Montreal region. The REM, a project spearheaded by CDPQ and its subsidiary, CDPQ Infra, is designed to be efficient, reliable, and environmentally friendly; catering to the daily travel needs of over 30,000 people and reducing an estimated 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Speaking at a launch event, François Legault, Premier of Québec, said “The REM will improve mobility in the Greater Montréal area. It’s a fine example of our efforts to provide Quebecers with fast, environmentally-friendly and practical public transportation infrastructure. Serving citizens living in the suburbs, outside the city centres, is a major challenge, and this is precisely what the REM will make possible.”

EuroParl Transport Committee Lead Budget Negotiator Hints at Priorities. Ciran Cuffe MEP (Greens/EFA) is to take the helm of the European Parliament Tourism and Transport Committee as Lead Negotiator for next year’s EU budget. In a tweet published on the 27th of July, Cuffe outlined his desire to help better fund railways across the union, to support low-carbon aviation fuels, and to improve road safety. Along with the tweet, Cuffe shared over 60 proposed budgetary amendments and proposals. Among these proposals include a significant increase to the of European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) budget; the provision of new financial resources to EASA in order to cover new responsibilities, including “to ensure a level playing field for sustainable air transport (ReFuelEU Aviation)”; and the creation of a new budget line for tourism in order to provide a coordinated response to external shocks at the EU-level. The document also included a number of preparatory actions, including the establishment of a book and claim system for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and supporting the “Tourism of Tomorrow Lab” with the objective of eventually establishing a European Agency for Tourism. With the European elections set for June 2024, the coming months should be full of insightful announcements by MEPs (and MEPs to be) in their private and official capacities.

Mobico plans Eurostar competitor. Mobico, with a group of companies, has been engaging in extensive discussions regarding the launch of a cross-Channel train service to compete with Eurostar. This initiative represents the first significant challenge to Eurostar’s monopoly on passenger rail traffic connecting London to major European cities such as Brussels, Amsterdam, and Paris. While there has been talk of other companies attempting to compete with Eurostar, no competitors have successfully overcome the logistical and financial challenges associated with operating such services. Mobico’s proposed rail service, to be named Evolyn, aims to commence operations between London and Paris through the Channel Tunnel as early as 2025. However, final details are yet to be confirmed and subject to potential changes.

UK PM urges London Mayor to “think twice” on ULEZ expansion. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is advising the Mayor of London to reconsider his intentions of extending the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (Ulez) to outer London. In a conversation with the BBC, Mr. Sunak referred to the proposed plans as an “unwarranted additional tax,” particularly during a time when inflation is causing difficulties for many. He expressed concern that such an expansion would impose a “strain” on families as they engage in everyday activities, such as visiting the supermarket, taking their children to school, or attending medical appointments with their GP.” Simultaneously, the Sunak has ordered that the Department for Transport launch a review of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs); Council-administered initiatives aimed at encouraging walking and cycling by implementing street filters, preventing motor vehicles from using them as shortcuts while still allowing access.