Commission chat, nautical nuclear & bike behemoths 

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EU Commissioner candidates start the process of proving their mettle this week. Only rumours about which portfolios will go to who at this stage but one thing we know for sure: current transport boss Violeta Bulc will not be returning.

Stay up to date with the comings and goings of the Commissioner reshuffle with our dedicated tracker, which will run all the way up to the start of the new mandate on 1 November.

Commission departments have reportedly issued a wishlist of policies they would like the new executive to prioritise, although the current administration has disavowed the leaked document.

The text mentions a number of mobility-themed policies from the various directorate-generals, from mass roll-out of charging infrastructure to harmonisation of road signs.

Ireland’s transport minister sparked jokes at his expense when he tweeted a picture of himself charging his electric car. Local experts were quick to point out that the charger in question is not connected to the mains yet.

Denmark’s foray into e-mobility is proving to be more successful, after launching the world’s largest electric ferry. The Ellen will operate between two islands and runs exclusively on battery power. 

In news that seemingly defies the laws of physics, a Swiss quarry is operating a 45-tonne dump truck that does not use any energy. It achieves the remarkable feat by using regenerative braking on its route. More details here.

Heavy vehicles pose a dilemma for battery-advocates but German car giant Daimler is now testing e-trucks in the real world. Range is supposedly 400km, with commercial launch in 2021. Analysts say it could be a game-changer.

New analysis by Bloomberg shows that batteries aren’t going to have the market all to themselves, as the price of hydrogen is set to plummet over the coming decade. That opens up sectors like railways and maritime to heavy decarbonisation.

Atomic energy is also in the frame, although a floating nuclear reactor built by Russia is stoking controversy. Critics have asked whether the vessel is unsinkable and who is responsible for it once it leaves Russian waters.

Former VW Group chief Ferdinand Piech died aged 82 on Sunday. He was largely credited with transforming the firm from regional player into global powerhouse and Europe’s largest carmaker. More on his legacy here.

The UK government will have to make a decision on whether to stick the course with the planned High Speed 2 rail link. Here’s a breakdown of the costs and benefits of the mega project. Solar energy is also featuring in the UK’s rail-power mix.

Night trains are seemingly all the rage these days and Sweden, home country of climate activist Greta Thunberg, is launching new services to link it to Germany.

Switzerland’s government confirmed it has no problem with delayed trains skipping stations in order to make up for lost time, offering a fascinating glimpse into how a rail network synonymous with punctuality leaves up to its reputation.

The Dutch city of Utrecht can now claim to have the world’s largest bicycle parking garage. With space for nearly 13,000 two-wheelers, Utrecht overtook Tokyo as the world record holder.

What else I’m reading

  • The Greta effect [Economist]
  • World’s first hydrogen-powered flying taxi? [Yahoo]
  • Norway, Russia dispute Arctic shipping route [Moscow Times]
  • Stamboul Train, Graham Greene, 1934

Picture of the week

Thirty years after millions of Baltic citizens formed a human chain across their countries, three Air Baltic planes decked out in the colours of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Next stops

Commissioner candidates, one of whom will likely be allocated the transport job, sit down with Ursula von der Leyen & co. this week. News as we get it.

MEPs on the transport committee meet on 2 and 3 September.

Upcoming events

Join us on 6 November for a high-level event supported by BMW. We’ll look into what action is needed to achieve a carbon-neutral mobility sector and to reach the EU’s 2030 and 2050 targets. Is there a single solution or do we need to look at a mixture? Details here.

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