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France increasingly tends towards mobility with reduced environmental impacts.

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

The French Government is particularly active in promoting means of transport with low environmental impact. And it seems that decision makers will quickly move from words to deeds. On the 24th February 2023 at Hôtel de Matignon (Paris), Élisabeth Borne, French Prime Minister, dressed the roadmap scenarios as for the transport sector in France. Car decarbonisation, massive support for rail, improvement of mobility networks and everyday transport, have been identified as the pillars of the new gouvernemental policies. Her speech was particularly significant coinciding with the presentation of the Report by the Infrastructure Policy Council (IOC) with special focus to future plans.

Photo >> Keynote speech by Élisabeth Borne, French Prime Minister, about the ecological transition of transport (Paris, Hôtel de Matignon, 24th February 2023) © Gouvernement de la République Française

The Prime Minister evidenced the priority role of the transports in the development of the society by pointing out: « Access to work and to our public services, ability to make businesses, culture and recreation, this is how transportation shapes our everyday lives. But it actually represents much more (...) Transportation has always been synonymous with freedom. It is one of the levers of emancipation ». Hence, the need to ensure quality services equally distributed throughout the territory to meet the needs of their users, or citizens. Their direct involvement is therefore essential in the planning of ambitious actions.

Photo >> Electric public transport.

She focuses then on the most inspiring objectives pursued by the French Government in recent years: « Throughout the the last five years, and even today, we

have followed two major orientations. The first is the development of everyday transport.

By giving access to mobility, we can bridge divided territories, break isolation, revitalise specific areas. Lack of access to transport means sometimes to give up a job offer

miss training or refuse to meet a relative. The second ambition is decarbonization. Transport is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions: a third of the total. So, action is absolutely necessary. We have no alternative ». This approach is also reiterated by the French national ecological transition project called France Nation Verte, published in October 2022.

The Prime Minister, therefore highlighted the necessary actions to be taken: « Infrastructure must be designed to enable intermodality ( well as to) allow citizens to

change their habits. (...) Together with communities, we need to think more globally, connect infrastructure to services, and find solutions that are tailored to each living area ».

Photo >> Urban bicycles as well as the integration of cycling on all public transport services are key elements of intermobility.

Transport on track turns out one of the strategic axes: «We are therefore choosing to make priority investments in infrastructure that will enable us to make a successful ecological transition, starting with the railway sector which is the backbone of mobility », she stated.

The French Government in partnership with the main national railway company, SNCF, and the support of the European Union, launch a "new deal" by allocating 100 billion euros to invest in rail transport projects by 2040 to modernise and upgrade the network.

An additional billion euro per year is also planned to reinforce network regeneration, and

further 500 million euro per year for its development. All actions will have positive repercussions on train punctuality and their speed, including the metropolitan RER (express underground or subway trains).

Photo >> Train driving through Nature.

One of the main missions is to reduce the use of cars by providing accessible and user-friendly public transits. The investment should also generate positive trends in the French economy, considering that 80% of companies operating in the railway sector are based in France. The objective is also to decrease the number of commercial trucks on road through the creation of an extended cargo-train network interconnected to the main marine and fluvial harbours. The Prime Minister stressed: « To decarbonise transport, we must offer alternatives to use individual car. (...) In order to change the habits, you have to offer solutions». However, the choice of the French Government does not seem to penalise those who need to use the car to travel or to go to work. The French ecological transition, in fact, does not want to be drastic and sudden, but gradual and inclusive.

A series of incentives are being studied also to encourage the use of bicycle as far as possible. The ambition to allow everyone to have access to clean transport, adapted to every situation was introduced by the French Government as the current mantra of their environmental policies. We wish that the gradual process of change will not hinder the human technological and intellectual progress, hoping as well that the strengthening of electric transport will not cause a more severe energy crisis. ***

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By Maurice Abbati

Springer International Publishing

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