Wednesday 3 November 2021

Rail to the COP sparks ideas on ‘How might we design a better future’?

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Leading the ‘Let’s get on track’ ideathon on board the climate train to Glasgow, the UIC delegation sparked conversations on the railways in 2030 and how might we design a better future. Taking the new UIC 2030 Vision as inspiration, the Rail to the COP passengers brainstormed ideas for solutions to transform railways. During the trip, youth activists, railway sector representatives and NGOs discussed how rail transport should be designed in the future and shared their best ideas with other participants.

The workshop asked:

  • How might we improve the travel experience in trains?
  • How might we make trains the mode of choice more often?
  • How might we improve the image of trains?
  • How might we create a seamless, interconnected, door-to-door service?

There was a wide range of bright and creative ideas from the workshops, with many people highlighting the need for integrated ticketing and a single, easy way to buy international tickets. Other ideas included a ‘green miles’ scheme akin to air miles to incentivise frequent use of rail. The UIC delegation was accompanied throughout the journey by an illustrator who listened in on the ideas from the discussions. The result of the illustration captured on the train has been pulled together as a single poster that provides much food for thought for UIC and its members. These ideas build on UIC’s recently published 2030 Vision and how it might be realised.

The climate train, wrapped with the special COP message, ‘Ride Against Climat Change’, was greeted at Glasgow Central Station by a bagpiper and a large crowd of welcoming climate activists. The station has been fully dressed in COP26 banners for the fortnight, and the station clock has been turned green to mark this important global event. The UK rail-backed ‘We Mean Green’ project platform was in situ, hosted by Network Rail and the Rail Delivery Group. Station users and COP delegates will be invited to visit the platform throughout the two weeks and will have the chance to try a virtual reality train driving experience.

The messages from the train workshops were conveyed to a gathering hosted by ProRail, NS and UIC in Glasgow on Sunday 31 October, where Kristian Schmidt, Director for Land Transport at the European Commission (DG MOVE), reflected on the journey, the outcomes and the changes needed for rail in the decade ahead to take its place as the backbone of a sustainable mobility system. UIC will be taking these key messages to the COP26 events in which it is participating, promoting the important role of rail in climate mitigation.

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For further information, please contact Lucie Anderton at

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