The 2023 European Railway Award was held in Brussels today in a 16th edition strongly marked by current events in Ukraine and the sector’s commitment to diversity. The Rail Champion prize was presented to Ukrainian Railways (UZ) for their remarkable resilience and continuation of transport services in times of war and unimaginable hardship. Additionally, Eglė Šimė was recognised as this year’s Rail Trailblazer for her focus on empowering women in railways while ably steering her company, LTG Cargo, through tumultuous times. The awards were bestowed during a prestigious ceremony at Belgium’s Royal Museums of Fine Arts, in the presence of high-level European Commission officials, Members of the European Parliament, the Swedish Presidency of the EU represented by Swedish Minister for Infrastructure and Housing Andreas Carlson, and Ukrainian Ambassador to the EU Vsevolod Chentsov.
Greeted by hosts Philippe Citroën, UNIFE Director General, and Alberto Mazzola, CER Executive Director, guests heard from a range of speakers, starting with a video message from European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, “Rail transport, she said, will play an important part in Europe’s plan to become climate neutral by 2050.” Andreas Carlson, Sweden’s Minister for Infrastructure and Housing, presented the outlook for rail policy during the Swedish EU Presidency, noting “I would like to stress the importance of well-functioning, efficient transport systems for Europe’s competitiveness. Transport is the backbone of our economy, and rail plays a significant part.”
The European Railway Award’s Rail Champion title is an honorary recognition jointly bestowed by the organisers. Recent tragic events in Ukraine and the remarkable efforts to keep transport lines open, made Ukrainian Railways (UZ) an obvious recipient for this year’s prize. Since the start of the war, Ukrainian Railways have provided a lifeline to millions of displaced citizens and kept vital aid and supplies flowing through the country. Working under the most difficult and dangerous conditions, UZ employees’ heroic efforts are ensuring the continuation of transport services according to a regular railway schedule. These efforts demonstrate the enormous resilience and crisis fitness of the railway system and the importance of strong railway companies. Ukrainian Railways’ everyday struggle and ongoing achievement was deemed highly deserving of the Rail Champion Award, which also served to underline the EU community’s solidarity and support.
First organised in 2007, the European Railway Award celebrates and recognises outstanding contributions to the rail sector. The 2023 Award ceremony attracted hundreds of guests from across Europe, including local, national and EU-level politicians and transport stakeholders.