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Rail Infrastructure Managers welcome overhaul of European railway laws

Posted: 17 September 2010 | | No comments yet

The heads of EIM welcome the far reaching revision of basic European railway regulation proposed today by the European Commission…

The heads of EIM welcome the far reaching revision of basic European railway regulation proposed today by the European Commission...

The heads of European rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM) welcome the far reaching revision of basic European railway regulation proposed today by the European Commission. The recast of the “First Railway Package” will help to cement the gains that have been made by the liberalisation of the railway market in the last seven years. The functional independence of rail infrastructure managers will be further entrenched in order to make European railways more competitive for the benefit of all users.

EIM sees the Recast as an opportunity to overcome shortcomings in the current regulations. EIM is convinced that EU rail legislation urgently needs clarification, simplification and streamlining in oder to avoid misinterpretation and discrimination. It is therefore necessary to create a regulatory framework that will support development of a competitive, sustainable, safe and customer focussed rail network in Europe. Hubert du Mesnil, President of EIM and head of the French infrastructure manager RFF, said: “EIM welcomes the proposed Recast as an opportunity to clarify railway systems across Europe and ultimately to create appropriate conditions for the rail market to grow. It also highlights the pivotal role played by the infrastructure managers in the railway system, and the need for an extended cooperation – between themselves as well as with the European Commission.” EIM supports the following specific objectives addressed by the Recast:

  • To ensure adequate financing and charging for rail infrastructures;
  • To avoid distortion of competition (misuse of State funds, discrimination, conflict of interest in the management of rail related services);
  • To reinforce regulatory bodies independence, competencies and the means at their disposal to ensure they are in a position to carry out their functions effectively.

“EIM is particularly glad to see that the Recast contains proposals to strengthen access to rail related services. Fueling facilities and train formation services and services in stations are essential for technical, commercial and economic reasons for new entrants to be able to enter and operate in the market”, said EIM’s Executive Director Hendrik Abma. The First Railway Package adopted in 2001 was designed among others to liberalise international rail freight. However, in recent years the European Commission has identified a number of shortcomings in the implementation of this legislation, including:

  • Lack of independence of some infrastructure managers in relation to railway operators;
  • Failure in some Member States to set up an independent regulatory body with the necessary powers to remedy competition problems in the railway sector;
  • Discrimination in the provision of “rail related services,” such as fuelling , shunting, or services in stations
  • Insufficient implementation of the provisions of the Directive on track access charging, such as the absence of a performance regime to improve the performance of the rail operators
  • The lack of stable financing for the infrastructure managers enabling them to adequately maintain rail infrastructure, reduce costs and achieve a high performing rail

EIM’s Vice-President and CEO of Infrabel Luc Lallemand said: „The integrated approach of the European Commission regarding rail infrastructure is very much welcomed. It is critical that Member States develop a clear-long term policy regarding rail. It will allow the Infrastructure Managers to develop their business plans based on the objectives set and taking into account the sustainable financing agreed in the Multi-Annual Contracts. Such an approach is the only right one for creating a reliable, safe and high quality rail sector to the benefit of the customer.” Liberalistation of the rail market has brought good results in number of EU countries. For example in the UK in the first ten years freight and passenger traffic volumes grew by 60% and 42%. Paul Plummer, Director of Planning and Regulation at Network Rail, said: “The Recast offers great potential benefits for passengers and businesses across Europe. Properly regulated railways with transparent access and charging delivered by independent infrastructure managers with stable funding – lies at the heart of the recast and Europe’s future transport policy. We are pleased that the Commission holds the UK’s rail industry to be a benchmark in upholding many of these basic principles. The success that our liberalised market has seen in growth of passengers, infrastructure investment, and arrival of new entrants is one that we are keen to share with other member states.” The proposed recast must now be jointly agreed by the European Parliament and national governments before it enters into force.

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