All Aboard for a European Year of Railway Workers

2021 is the European Year of Rail. During this year, governments, railway companies, citizens and trade unions champion this green, inclusive and essential mode of transport: highlighting how rail connects people and helps move goods across the continent.

While these are great reasons to celebrate rail – we believe it is essential to use this year to highlight workers across European railways.

For the ETF and its affiliates, this is the Year of European Railway Workers – a year to celebrate those who work in the sector keeping trains moving safely and sustainably.

Given the urgent need for sustainable transport, it is understandable why the EU wants to put the spotlight on rail – with rising public and political concern over the need to de-carbonise – but the workers in the sector face critical challenges.

Years of liberalisation have not seen the promised returns on improved services or increased use of rail for cargo and passenger transport. Meanwhile, social dumping is on the rise, less than 20% of workers in the sector are women, and a large share of the workforce are expected to retire over the next years.

A key moment for the year will be the Connecting Europe Express (CEE), a train journey that will depart Lisbon on 2 September, cross 26 countries and arrive in Paris on 7 October. For the European Commission, the purpose of the train is: ‘to make us better understand the challenges that European rail has to overcome to become the mode of choice for passengers and businesses alike.’

Yet, this train would not move a single kilometre without the train drivers, guards, cleaners, maintenance staff, control room personnel, and rail personnel working in the sector.

That is why we’re calling on European leaders to take action – for a rail sector that’s more attractive to work in and show real commitment to bringing more women and young workers into employment while ensuring good working conditions for all workers in the sector.




Our key demands:

  • Invest in public railways
  • Keep on-board staff on trains
  • Invest in quality jobs and rail infrastructure
  • Keep passengers and railway workers safe

The ETF and trade unions will be taking part in events marking the journey of the Express as it crosses through Europe’s great diverse cities and landscapes.

Key ETF Dates and affiliate activities

  • 9 – 10 September On the occasion of the Connecting Europe Express passing through Austria after its stop in Italy, Italian affiliates FIT-CISL, Filt-Cgil and Uiltrasporti, and Austrian affiliate vida published a joint statement to call on the EU to do more for regulation and safety. Italian versionGerman version
  • 9 September Railway needs women: media event with the Women’s Chair of vida and the CEO of ÖBB in Salzburg, demanding better working conditions for women in railways: event info (in German)
  • 10 September Media event with stakeholders from the European Commission, European Parliament, CER and vida on passenger transport, demanding the continuation of direct awarding in order to combat wage and social dumping: event info (in German)
  • 16 September – Digitale Konferenz: Wie kann ein sozialökologischer Neustart der Verkehrspolitik gelingen?/The European Year of Rail and the Federal Election in Germany, Organised by EVG
  • 27 September – Connecting Europe Express stops in Bern (CH), ETF Railway Section Chair, Giorgio Tuti will speak with the Swiss Ministry of Transport and the CEO of SBB (Swiss Federal Railways)
  • 2 October – The Nordic Transport Workers’ Federation and Nordic unions organised a manifestation at the Stockholm Central Station to mark the arrival of the train in Sweden with ith the participation of MEP Johan Danielsson
  • 7 October – Connecting Europe Express arrives in Paris, ETF and its affiliates will welcome the Express at its final stop
  • 9-10 November, Central and Eastern Europe event in Prague (CZ)

Discover the route of the CEE journey.




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