By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis on Monday encouraged the Italian State Railways to be even more attractive and sustainable in a show of greater solidarity. He made the exhortation to some 400 managers and employees of the Italian holding group led by their CEO and Managing Director, Gianfranco Battisti.
According to the Pope, trains are a fundamental means of transport and connection, and also provide an incentive for economic and social development of the nation.
The Pope explained that the railways need to be appealing in order to attract investment, improve quality, encourage trade and generate new businesses. The railways need to be beautiful and attractive, so people feel welcomed, at ease and want to come back to use their services.
Rail transport, the Pope noted, is also becoming increasingly sustainable because it is economical for the business world and for individual citizens, and it also respects the territory it passes through and the communities it involves.
Regarding environmental sustainability, the Pope appreciated the railways’ efforts in ensuring its impact is very minimal and that carbon dioxide emissions, which are very harmful to the ecosystem and its equilibrium, are reduced to a minimum.
The Pope commended the State Railways for making precise structural choices in this regard, making the train a vehicle with very low carbon footprint as compared to the car or the airplane.
Speaking about the near future, the Pope wished that the railways grow more in solidarity, favouring families and those in need because of old age, physical limitations or low income. The railways should also be more supportive in making their services and their quality available to various parts of Italy and on different types of trains.
The railway network, he said, is responsible for connecting and keeping alive the different areas of Italy, even the most remote, and like veins and capillaries should bring life to the members farthest from the heart, ensuring no centre is excluded, marginalized and impoverished.
The Pope also thought of those who travel in trains regarded as “secondary”, saying they should not be made to face the struggle against overcrowding or the difficult environmental conditions of carriages every day.
Equality and non-discrimination
The Holy Father commended the commitment of the Italian State Railways to the principles of equality and non-discrimination, ensuring its services don’t discriminate between the fortunate and those who cannot afford a more dignified and comfortable journey.
The Pope also recalled several responsibilities of the Italian State Railways managers, such as overseeing the employees, safety at the workplace, handling tender contracts, environmental sustainability and contributing to the economic and social development of the nation.