Following the elections of the European Parliament last May, the composition of the Transport Committee has changed quite a lot, with a relatively high number of totally new members. The new Chairman, Michael Cramer (Greens, DE, re-elected), is known for being supportive to rail and public transport, however demanding. He favours funds for regional lines versus high speed, promotes the carriage of bicycles, and supports strengthened passengers’ rights. The EPP still holds the majority in the Transport Committee, closely followed by the S&D, and then the ECR. UITP has started meeting the new and the re-elected MEPs, and is organizing a special event in the Parliament in the evening of the 2 December.
The European Commission also has a new college of Commissioners and a new President, Jean-Claude Juncker (LUX). The new Commissioner for Transport is the Slovenian Violeta Bulc (liberal). She will be working in close collaboration with Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission Vice-President responsible for Energy Union, as well as Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. The new Commission officially started its term of office on 1 November, which will run until 31 October 2019. As a first big task, Mr Juncker announced that he would provide up to €300 billion in additional private and public investment over the next three years. UITP is actively promoting the added value of public transport for the European economy in an attempt to get some parts of this package.
Finally, the European Railway Agency elected a new Executive Director on 30 September. Josef Doppelbauer will replace as from 1 January 2015 Marcel Verslype who has been chairing the ERA for the past 10 years. Josef Doppelbauer is Austrian, and used to work as Chief Technical Officer for Bombardier. He chaired the European rail research advisory council (ERRAC), and has been much involved in Shift2Rail.