Tuesday, June 9, 2009

European Rail Freight Stifled by Operators

Existing system not effective
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE - A report published by the UK’s House of Lords accuses the existing European rail freight operators of squeezing out potential competition with their ability to control both infrastructure and operations.

Roger Freeman, chairman of the Lords EU sub-committee, said that: ‘It is important to separate infrastructure from the operations and the train companies themselves. Where there is an insidious connection between the two there are bound to be difficulties for new entrants and suspicions that the track access charges are fixed against private companies.’

The report also concluded that there was greater need for cross-country cooperation to facilitate shipments and that it was duty of the European Community to reform the current structure.

These problems are compounded by national considerations. Frank Schuhholz, global rail manager for Maersk Group. He states that in certain locations, particularly France and Germany, private operators are penalised with triple the charges paid by nationalised companies.

Echoing the Lords report, Schuhholz said that the need to change locomotives at every border was a situation that aggravated customers and he encouraged the EC to reform the system to fall into line with road freight practices.