Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Antitrust Authority Turns on Rail Freight Carrier Which Handicapped Competition

10+ million Euro Fine for State Owned Company
Shipping News Feature

SLOVAKIA – The state-run rail freight company Zelezničná spoločnosť Cargo Slovakia (ZSSK Cargo), has been fined over €10.250 million by Slovak antitrust authority Protimonopolný Úrad (PMÚ) for violating competition rules by limiting the sale and hire of electric trains and restricting refuelling of diesel trains for competitors in such a way that it distorted competition in the market. According to local reports, PMÚ spokesperson Alena Sedláková, said:

“The electricity-driven locomotives which can be operated in Slovak conditions are usually owned only by [ZSSK], the dominant company, which however didn’t want to sell or hire them to its competitors.

“Thus, private haulers used instead the less effective diesel locomotives. Moreover, the state hauler did not enable its competitors to refuel the diesel locomotives. The behaviour of the company increased the costs of competitors – thus the fine imposed by the office. The other haulers failed to effectively render their services and assert themselves on the market more decisively, grow and compete with [ZSSK].”

The company may still launch an appeal against the decision, which the antitrust authority was keen to point out, is not yet final. Speaking to local press, company spokesperson Martin Halanda, commented:

“ZSSK does not agree with the findings of the Slovak PMÚ. Our company will use all the legal remedial (sic) means to overturn this decision.”