Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cargo Carriers and Rail Freight Group Urge European Parliament to Adopt 4th Railway Package

Meanwhile RFG Signs Up a Dozen Sponsors for 2014
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – Representatives of the cargo rail carrying companies will be present in Strasbourg this week for the plenary session of the European Parliament and, prior to the meeting, a joint letter signed by eighteen passenger and freight operators, customers and associations, has been sent to every member of the Parliament, urging them to accept without change the 4th Railway Package as approved by the Transport and Torus Committee on 17 December, when it comes to the First Reading Vote in Plenary. The letter is signed by companies and associations from across Europe, from Sweden to Spain and Romania to the UK, and independent of the main incumbents and the full text is printed here:

‘As the representatives of companies and associations in the passenger and freight rail sector and their customers, we endorse the EP TRAN Committee’s over-arching commitment to progressing the Fourth Railway Package (4th RP) in a timely and consistent fashion. We are united in our wish for the 4th RP to be taken forward - as amended and approved with large majorities in the TRAN Committee meeting on 17 December 2013.

Fair competition above the tracks, including the involvement of private sector operators, is essential if there is to be innovation and growth. There are many issues in the package, including the extent of separation between infrastructure manager and railway undertakings and Chinese walls between them to ensure no unfair financial flows; the requirements for competition in passenger services; the greater responsibilities of the European Rail Agency and the need for greater co-ordination and co-operation between infrastructure managers.

All these issues are interrelated and do need to remain in one package if the maximum benefit is to be derived from them; new entrants must be enabled and encouraged if they are to bring benefit to the sector. Better integration between the national networks to facilitate cross border traffic is also essential.

Thus, we all want to see the rail sector develop. This requires investment and, given the pressure on state funding, it is important to encourage private sector investment to enable the railways to grow, to provide a better service, meet the needs of the customer and keep costs and charges to the taxpayer and customer as low as possible. The 4th RP will go a long way towards creating a single market in the rail sector. Rail must be able to live up to the many expectations of decision-makers, other transport modes and customers, and must be able to fulfil an important role in a resource-efficient, sustainable EU transport network.

It has been claimed that this 4th RP limits the right to strike, of railway workers to move from one company to another in a holding company. There is nothing in the package about this at all, only a restriction on senior management movement.

The package was debated in much detail in TRAN and many compromises were agreed, and the package was approved as a whole, including the important Governance part, an essential element without which the package will have little effect.

We do urge you to proceed with the 4RP as a whole and with the text as approved at TRAN. Not all change is bad and much of it will actually improve services, makes them more competitive and reduces costs to the taxpayer and customer!’

One of the key organisations concerned with this matter is the Rail Freight Group which includes amongst its 120+ corporate members those involved in every logistical link in the supply chain from suppliers and materials handling outfits to ports and multimodal terminal operators. The RFG has just announced its twelve strong list of Sponsor Partners for 2014, companies which it says represents a wide range of interests across the rail freight sector.

The full list consists of: Associated British Ports (ABP), DB Schenker Rail (UK), Freightliner, Hutchison Ports (UK), Interfleet Technology, Kalmar, Knorr Bremse Rail Services, Lloyds Register Rail, Malcolm Group, Railway Vehicle Engineering Ltd (RVEL), Victa Railfreight and VTG Rail UK. Maggie Simpson, RFG Executive Director, commented:

“The RFG relies on the support and input of its Members and we are looking forward to working with our Sponsor Partners during 2014. We thank all past and present Sponsors for their continuing support in helping us in our work.”