Pollution is one of the greatest challenges for our health and well-being. The number of preventable deaths, especially in Lithuania, is staggering.
Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis
On 22 March, Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis and Josef Doppelbauer, Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways, participated in a Citizens' Dialogue with 60 citizens in the town of Vilnius. The event took place in the Railway Museum, at the Vilnius Railway Station.
The audience consisted of several Members of Parliament, representatives of the transport sector, labour unions, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, civil society actors and media.
There was a lively and open discussion thanks to moderation by journalist Živilė Kropaitė. Many questions were asked via Sli.do. The event was livestreamed on the European Commission Representation’s Facebook and YouTube sites.
The discussion started with the impact of transport on citizens’ health and well-being. The audience voted that pollution is the greatest threat and that railway transport should be the top priority for the EU, with participants mentioning air and road transport as the most polluting ones. “Air transport is one of the most polluting modes of transport. The railway would be a perfect alternative. Why can’t train ticket prices be lowered?” said one participant.
The interactive discussion then revolved around a number of issues related to current EU transport policies and the way forward. Among the topics discussed were the lack of interconnectivity and interoperability in the continent. “When will I be able to take the train from Vilnius to Riga?” was one of the first questions from the floor.
One participant wanted to know if the EU was foreseeing some sort of subsidies or lowering the prices of transport for large families. “Students enjoy train tickets at a discounted price. Why can’t large families in need of greater social protection get the same, something like a family card?”, asked a participant, while another one brought up the issue of security, more specifically regarding some recent railway accidents. Finally, the discussion turned to the future of transport in the EU.
Turning to other issues, one participant asked if the EU could press Poland to do its part to achieve ‘Rail Baltica’ faster, while another asked Commissioner Andriukaitis why Lithuania had not become a destination for medical tourism as was the case for other countries.