YFactor presents: Next Stop podcast  

​​​2021 marks the celebration of the European Year of Rail, an initiative launched by the European Commission to showcase the benefits of rail as a smart and sustainable way of transport. The CoR trainees of Spring 2021 decided to join the efforts in raising the awareness about the perks of rail transport through the production the "Next Stop" podcast series.

​ What is the Next Stop podcast about?

As the European Union is pushing towards a greener mobility with rail at the center of its plans, CoR trainees decided to dedicate their YFactor project to highlights how investing in rail connections and using rail as a way of travel benefits the whole European community. Rail brings European people, cities and regions closer together and do so in a nature-friendly, cost-effective manner. This is the core message at the heart of the Next Stop podcast.

Next Stop track list

Next Stop will comprise 8 episodes, all focusing on different topics related to the #EUYearOfRail and to the state of rail connections across Europe:

1. Introduction to the European Year of Rail and relaunch after Covid-19

2. Discover EU

3. Climate friendly alternative

4. Transport exclusion and deterioration of infrastructures

5. Connecting Europe Express and Trans Europe Express

6. Inclusion and diversity 

7. Behaviour changes and charging system ​

8. Future of the Rail

The podcast will host MEPs, EU officials and experts of the rail sectors. With their insights, the hosts will guide the listeners to the discovery of rail and what it means for the future of mobility in the European Union.

Final Report

The final report contains the highlights of the project and summarizes all the topics discuss over the eight episodes of this podcast. The publication is available at this link​.​​​​​


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  • #9 From Brussels to Strasbourgh with Josef Doppelbauer (European Railway Agency) and Pascal Smet (Secretary of State, Brussels Capital Region)
    The Spring 2021 trainees of the European Committee of the Regions could not conclude their Y-Factor project on the European Year of Rail without a special episode on the Connecting Europe Express in Brussels, and the European Youth Event in Strasbourg. When the Connecting Europe Express train arrived in Brussels after crossing multiple European countries and dozens of cities, we were joined by Mr Josef Doppelbauer, the Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways, to reflect on the challenges and potentials of the railway sector in the near future. We were also pleased to be joined by CoR member Mr Pascal Smet, serving as Secretary of State of the Brussels-Capital Region, who reflected with us on sustainable urban mobility with specific examples from the city of Brussels. After the Connecting Europe Express, we headed to Strasbourg to give a workshop, Getting on (train-)track, at the European Youth Event, where we were joined by Erasmus by Train, and virtually by the European Year of Rail Rapporteur, MEP Anna Deparnay Grunenberg (DE, Greens/EFA), MEP Mr Javi Lopez Fernandez (ES, S&D), and CoR member Mr Kieran McCarthy (IE, EA). Hear all about it in this special episode! See you in the many stops and stations around Europe!
  • #8 Last Stop: "Back to the Future" w/ Tatjana Söding (DE/ Erasmus by Train)
    Nowadays, most Erasmus students take the plane to travel to and from their Erasmus locations since in most cases it is cheaper and faster than train and organizations like the Erasmus Student Network keep collaborating with airlines like Ryanair. The non-profit organization Erasmus by Train was founded in 2020 with the aim of reverting this trend. The organization, composed of around 20 German students, is appealing to the European Commission to provide each Erasmus student with a free Interrail ticket. Tatjana Söding, student of MS in Human Ecology at Lund University and member of Erasmus by Train, joins this 8th and last episode of Next Stop to tell us more about the initiative. She stresses that “when taking the time to travel to and from your exchange location by train, the journey itself becomes part of the exchange experience." To conclude, we, the Spring 2021 trainees of the European Committee of the Regions, would like to thank you, all our listeners, for joining us in this journey around the EU railway world and we would like to encourage you to engage in the European Year of the Rail initiatives such as the Connecting Europe Express, which will start next September in Lisbon. This is the Last Stop. Please get off the train and visit us soon again!
  • #7 "Behaviour change - What can we do?" w/ Alberto Mazzola (IT/ Executive Director CER) & Livia Spera
    There's no better way to understand the transformation undergone in the rail transport system across Europe than to listen to Next Stop episode 7️⃣ What changes can be adopted in order to make trains more appealing to European citizens? What differences are there compared to other modes of transport? Alberto Mazzola, Executive Director of Community of European Railway (CER), and Livia Spera of the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) joined us to debate the behaviour changes necessary for a rail transport worthy of the Next Generation 🇪🇺 .
  • #6 "What about accessibility" w/ Kamil Goungor & Laura Alciauskaite.
    The European railway system is still far away from being accessible to everyone: People with disabilities face different types of barriers which stop them from being able to travel by rail spontaneously and independently. Kamil Goungor, travel blogger, activist for the rights of people with disabilities, development officer for the European Network on Independent Living and member of the European Disability Forum, joins our sixth episode to discuss about the challenges that people with disabilities face when travelling by train. When we talk of accessibility in trains, we mainly think about physical barriers, but Kamil points out many other obstacles that make it complicate for people with disabilities to travel independently and spontaneously: having to book assistance 24 or 48 hours in advance or no possibility to travel with other wheelchair users because of the lack of adapted space are some of them. Laura Alčiauskaitė, tells us more about the project TRIPS of the European Network on Independent Living, which she coordinates, aimed at making the transport in seven European cities – Brussels, Stockholm, Sofia, Bologna, Cagliari, Lisbon and Zagreb – more accessible for everyone. Did you know that in the 19th century, some critics of the early locomotives were afraid that women's uterus would fly out of their bodies as they were accelerated to the speed of 50 miles an hour? Get on board, we'll take you journey that is accessible to everybody!
  • #5 "Connecting Europe" w/ Herald Ruijters (NL/Director at DG MOVE; TEN-T) & Slaven Klobucar, managment of EGTC Platform, Cross-border cooperation, European Territorial Cooperation
    Connecting Europe Express is one of the most emblematic initiatives of the European Year of the Rail. In autumn, this train will cross Europe, from Lisbon to Athens, Warsaw, Stockholm, and finally Paris, via more than 40 cities in 26 different European countries. Herald Ruijters, Director of the Directorate for Investments, Innovative and Sustainable Transport in the DG MOVE of the European Commission, joins our fifth episode to tell us more about this initiative, aimed to connecting citizens, strengthen territorial cohesion and promoting the use of rail in cross-border journeys. Trains are the perfect substitutes for short distance flights but for making them competitive and attractive to people, it is crucial to improve the cross-border railway connections and to create a truly integrated European railway network. This is the objective of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), some of whose projects -like the train connecting the Baltic states with Poland or Lisbon with Madrid and France- will see the light during the second half of this decade. With Slaven Klobucar, from the The European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation of the CoR, we discuss about the importance of getting public entities from different territories together in order to overcome common obstacles, share experiences and facilitate cooperation. Did you know that the pioneers of electronic music, the German band Kraftwerk, named one of his albums after the mythic first-class train founded in 1957 that during four decades connected 130 cities in Europe: The Trans Europe Express? Get on board, we'll take you on a 20.000 km journey through the continent, from Portugal to Estonia, via almost 30 countries!
  • #4 "Rail 4 all" w/ Bartosz Jakubowski (PL/Jagiellonian Club Analysis Centre) & Iwona Budych
    In the early 80s and 90s the Polish government cancelled around 9000 km of railway routes, around a third of all routes, abandoning the infrastructures and leaving many people unconnected. In this fourth episode of Next Stop, Iwona Budych, President of the Transport Exclusion Association, and the analyst on public transport Bartosz Jakubowski join us to discuss about the consequences of transport exclusion and share with us the Polish case, where the lack of a trustworthy timetable and a sufficient frequency of trains made many people switch to cars. But what happened with those people who don't have access to cars? Nowadays around 15 million people are transport excluded in Poland, a phenomenon that affects specially children, women, elderly and people living in rural areas. Iwona points out the importance of an efficient network of public transport to ensure everyone has proper access to the labour market, education, health, and other services.
  • #3 "Towards a climate-neutral EU" w/ Javi López Fernandez (ES/MEP)
    Trains are among the more sustainable forms of transport. Night trains and high speed rails could replace short distance flights and they could reduce by 80% aviation transport in the same routes. In this third episode of Next Stop we discuss with the MEP Javi López Fernandez, member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament, how rail can help to reduce transport emissions to deliver the Green Deal goals, meaning climate neutrality by 2050. Javi López claims for a "new era of rail" and stresses the necessity to increase the use of trains not only among individuals but also when it comes to the transportation of goods within Europe. He highlights the importance of cooperating sharing technology and expertise with regions like Latin America in order to fight climate change in a global scale. Projects like the Tren Maya in Mexico or the Central Bi-Oceanic railway are some examples of this close cooperation. Did you know that there is a railway tube connecting the city of Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmö in Sweden? Get on board, we'll take you on a climate-friendly journey!
  • #2 "Discover the EU" w/ Lucy Allan & Vincent-Immanuel Herr
    How is it to travel across Europe for half a year, meeting new people, visiting new cities and discovering the diversity of Europe through the window? In the second episode of Next Stop Lucy Allan, winner of the 2019 DiscoverEU competition, takes us on a journey around Europe: from Glasgow to Budapest, via Rotterdam, Berlin, Luxembourg, Bern and Bratislava. The German activist and strong advocate of Free Interrail passes for young people, Vincent Immanuel Herr, joins us for a conversation about the DiscoverEU initiative and the importance of Interrail as a tool to shape the European identity and to increase the support for the EU program. Travelling by train around Europe showed him how Europe was diverse and connected at the same time and made him a true European. Did you know that the world’s first travel agency started thanks to a train trip? Get on board, we'll take you on a journey through the villages, forests, rivers, castles and cities of Europe!
  • #1 Getting back on Track after COVID w Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg (DEMEP)
    How can trains contribute to meet the Green Deal objectives as well as to the post-pandemic recovery? In this first episode of Next Stop the MEP and rapporteur for the European Year of Rail, Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg from the Greens talks about the relaunch of rail sector after the pandemic and the role of trains in strengthening European territorial cohesion. In the interview Ms. Deparnay-Grunenberg regrets that not enough funds are directed to the rail sector but sees the Recovery and Resilience Plans as a good start. She also presents a set of proposals to promote the use of the rail, especially among young people. Do you know which European ruler had to abdicate in a train in the beginning of the 20th century? And that one of the first movies ever made was about a steam train pulling into the station? Get on board, we'll take you on a journey through the amazing world of trains!