Cyprus plans to introduce a railway system to connect the main towns and ports while also favouring trams to ease urban congestion in buffering climate change, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said.
The last time Cyprus had a serviceable railway network was in 1950 while trams have yet to make an appearance in major towns despite several failed plans for the capital Nicosia.
But Karousos told his EU colleagues that Cyprus favours the resurrection of a railway line, but it won’t be anytime soon.
“Cyprus is an island country and does not have a railway infrastructure yet,” Karousos told a digital conference on innovative rail transport.
“However, it has carried out extensive studies and has future plans for the introduction of trams in dense urban areas as well as a railway connection that will connect the main cities as well as the international ports and airports of the island,” he added.
The debate focused on “innovative and climate-friendly rail transport that leverages connectivity and digitization across Europe”.
“The Republic of Cyprus recognizes that the railways can play an important role in improving the efficiency of the transport of goods and people, over short and long distances,” said the Transport Minister.
He said Cyprus supports efforts being made to improve the safety and competitiveness of European railways.
The aim of the conference was to sign the “Berlin Declaration” on the development of European rail freight in the context of the European Rail Freight (RFC) corridors.
A draft study titled “Trans Europe Express 2.0” for international high-speed and overnight rail services was presented while the Ministers of Transport also discussed a common booking platform for international passenger services.
Karousos argued that to ensure the resilience of the EU economy, the role of both the railways and other alternative means of mobility should be strengthened.
He also stated railways could help fulfil the policy of controlling the negative effects of climate change in the European Union.
He said the Shift2Rail initiative as an opportunity to finance the above projects, the cost of which is estimated at €1.2 bln and the required level of state funding is estimated at 50% of it.
“Such efforts are fully in line with the objectives of the White Paper on passenger and freight transport by rail.
By connecting all major airports and ports to the rail network by 2050 and by connecting trains to urban areas using the latest trams, the use of cars in the European Union using conventional fuels can be halved.”
A railway network operated in Cyprus during British colonial rule from October 1905 to December 1951 mainly serving Famagusta to Nicosia before it went broke.