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Munich, May 9, 2023 – Rail Cargo Information Netherlands, together with sector members, kicked off the EU Year of Skills at the Transport Logistic (TLM) fair in Munich with the aim to actively connect young professionals and emerging talents within the European rail sector.

Rail transport is a significant driving force behind Europe’s strategic goal of smart, green, and sustainable growth. However, like other sectors, the rail freight industry is also facing a growing skills shortage as a large portion of its workforce is retiring, just as technological developments require more skills.

European Year of Skills
The year 2023 is dedicated to the European Year of Skills. With this theme, the European Commission aims to give a new impetus to achieving sustainable and digital transition, innovation, and improving the competitive position, as well as recognising skills, competencies, and knowledge. To quote Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission: “We need much more focus in our investment on professional education and upskilling. We need better cooperation with companies, because they know best what they need. And we need to match these needs with people’s aspirations. But we also have to attract the right skills to our continent, skills that help companies and strengthen Europe’s growth.”

Rail Freight the Future is Ours
Two years ago, the Dutch rail freight sector launched the “Rail Freight, The Future is Ours” campaign to inform the general public about the sustainable, safe, and efficient transport of products by rail. Starting this year, young rail freight professionals will act as ambassadors to highlight how the sector is working on innovation, what products are transported by rail, and what skills make this sector so interesting and challenging. Matthew Harteveld, who has been named Rail Talent 2022, highlights the skills needed to work as an Operations Manager at Bertschi (link to video:


Boudewijn Siemons, the COO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority (one of the founding members of the initiative), highlights the significance of attracting new talent to the rail freight sector. Siemons states that ‘’Both the port of Rotterdam and the rail freight sector can substantially contribute to the European climate ambitions. However, a futureproof labour market is a prerequisite for completing the energy transition. The energy transition will create 10,000 to 25,000 new jobs before 2030 in the port industrial complex. We welcome initiatives that promote the rail freight sector and underline the importance of this mode of transport. The sector offers attractive career opportunities, and we can never attract enough talent at all levels to support us in reaching our ambitions.’’

The goal is to inspire and motivate both the upcoming and existing workforce, aligning their skills and ambitions with the available opportunities in the rail sector. This is particularly important to facilitate the transition towards greener and more digital practices within the industry. John Voppen, CEO at ProRail says about this: “Good rail workers are the backbone of a safe and efficient railway system. At ProRail, we understand the importance of skilled railway workers and the need for collaboration with our neighbouring countries to enhance railway infrastructure throughout Europe. We take pride in being one of the founding members of Rail Freight, The Future is Ours initiative, and fully support the EU Year of Skills through this platform. Together, we will prepare the next generation of railway workers and ensure a reliable and sustainable railway network for years to come.”

European collaboration
The Future is Ours platform aims to create more connections with talented young professionals across Europe, both by promoting the exchange of knowledge and experience and by jointly formulating the required skills and policies for the future to overcome obstacles. Today, during Transport Logistic Munich, the first connection was made between young professionals from the Netherlands and Germany. Uwe Berndt, a representative of Die Wirtschaftmacher – a German initiative aimed at enhancing the public image of the logistics industry – highlights the significance of European collaboration. Berndt emphasizes that: ‘’In the campaigns of our initiative, we specifically address young people. The young generations are internationally oriented. That is why we are increasingly directing our focus to other countries. We welcome any campaign that highlights the importance of logistics!’’


Next stop: Brussels

In the autumn of this year, the rail ambassadors will visit Brussels to share their findings with the European Commission. Marleen van de Kerkhof, a board member of Rail Cargo Information Netherlands, is dedicated to inspiring young people to pursue a career in the rail sector. According to her, achieving this goal demands not only engaging with young professionals but also establishing connections with various network organizations. Therefore, Rail Freight, The Future Is Ours will organise an event in Brussels on an annual basis to share practical examples with the European idea that can also promote diversity in the sector. This all, will be aligned with STAFFER (Skill Training Alliance for the Future European Rail System), a project supported by the European Commission to define future skills in the rail sector and ensure they align with education.

Do you want to know more about rail freight transport? Or do you want to participate? Visit our website!

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Do you have questions about the initiative Rail Freight, The Future is Ours? Would you like to become an ambassador? Or are you considering transporting goods by rail? Then please contact us. Leave a message with your details and we will contact you within 2 working days.

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