"If we are convinced that the shift to rail is one of the keys to the sustainability of the transport sector, then the bar will have to be set much higher", said the minister.

Pedro Nuno Santos spoke about the objectives listed in the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility of the European Commission, elaborated in the European Ecological Pact (European Green Deal).

The minister said that "with regard to rail transport, this strategy outlines the objectives of doubling the transport of goods and tripling the number of high-speed passengers by 2050, taking into account the levels of 2015".

Considering the goals "very ambitious" due to the investment needed to achieve them, Pedro Nuno Santos sees it as "clear" that "the achievement of these goals will involve the construction of hundreds of kilometres of new lines in Portugal, thousands of kilometres throughout Europe ".

"On the other hand, when we start doing maths, these goals start to seem insufficient to ensure the shift to rail we talk about so much," he said.

The minister quantified that "tripping high-speed passenger transport from 2015 to 2050 corresponds to an annual growth of 3%", but countered by recalling that "air transport grew at an average of 4% per year between 2011 and 2019 in Europe ".

"The same is true for goods. Doubling traffic volumes by 2050 is equivalent to an annual growth of 2%. This will be easily overcome by volume growth in a scenario of moderate economic growth," he added.

For this reason, Pedro Nuno Santos defends that the fulfilment of the objectives "will only be able to be done with a massive investment, from the outset".