Friday, December 18, 2020

European Rail Freight Providers Worried Over Eurovignette Directive reform

Concerns that Trucks are Gaining Unwarranted Environmental Support
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – Prior to today's expected adoption of the European Council's first reading position on Eurovignette Directive reform, the European rail freight sector has significant concerns about the Council position, as it runs contrary to the shared climate and transport policy objectives of the Member States themselves. Eurovignettes, whilst not mandatory, allow States to charge road haulage outfits for driving in their territories.

The European Summit last week agreed to upgrade the European Climate Law target for CO2 emissions from a 40% to a 55% cut by 2030. The European Commission describes the need for an ambitious Eurovignette Directive reform as necessary to achieve climate, pollution, congestion and accident objectives in the recently unveiled Mobility Strategy.

Three of the major players in the industry, the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA) and the International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport (UIRR) say the first reading position of Member States on the revision of the Eurovignette Directive, protecting long haul trucking, is a step backward and further delays rail and water-borne intermodal transport to be able to compete on an equal footing with road-only transport within the EU single market.

The trio say that rail freight offers a zero emission, low pollution, congestion-free and safe alternative to long-distance trucking and that the integrity of the single market and a level playing field for every mode of freight and intermodal transport must be achieved. Fair competition in terms of infrastructure charging is needed to enable all modes to make their fair contribution to greening transport. The current amendments proposed by the Member States will ‘regrettably further hamper rail’s competitiveness’.

The group calls on Member States, to focus on the best means of achieving emission reductions in freight transport in general, in place of the exclusive focus on road emission reduction. It says a multimodal approach in this regard is unavoidable and that a 100% toll reduction for ‘zero emission trucks’ will undermine Europe’s modal shift objectives unless matched by similarly ambitious infrastructure charge reductions for all other zero emission modes like rail.