Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rail Freight Body Calls On Europe To Address Re - Monopolisation Problems

Process may Cost Companies 'Tens of Millions'
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – Tony Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group (RFG)has issued a statement in his role as President of the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA)to voice the organisations concern over perceived rail freight market re-monopolisation in certain EU countries. The move away from open competition to re-monopolisation may cost new entrants up to tens of millions of euro if adopted in some EU member countries. The ERFA say these costs will further reduce the competitiveness of rail freight because of the re-monopolisation process.

As an example the ERFA state that the revised network usage conditions of Italian infrastructure manager RFI will require rescue locomotives and wagons, double insurance cover, higher shunting fees, etc., entailing huge additional investments and that given the situation in several other EU countries, the Recast of the first Railway Package for the liberalisation of the rail freight market in the EU must be strengthened substantially to prevent discriminatory measures such as those in Italy.

“The obstacles are legal, technical, financial and operational. If the Recast does not dismantle these obstacles, private investments by rail freight operators, terminals, ports, leasing companies and wagon keepers will disappear”, the Board said.

The Board will ask the EU institutions to incorporate another legal initiative into the Recast to entitle rail freight operators to receive financial compensation in case they do not get the slots or services they paid for from the infrastructure manager, especially during strikes. “If railway undertakings suffer financial losses because of infrastructure managers, the latter must reimburse them“, said the Board. This must be enshrined in the Recast as part of the extended powers of the rail regulators. This would also avoid lengthy and costly court proceedings.

Further substantial problems include delays with safety certification and lack of recognition by the Entity in Charge of Maintenance (ECM). The market will suffer enormous damage if railway undertakings are prevented from operating as of 1st January 2011 due to not having a valid safety certificate or if national safety authorities do not recognise ECM’s. The ERFA will now call upon the European Parliament to appropriately strengthen the Recast of the first Railway Package, ensure that safety certificates are not delayed and ECM’s recognised.

The ERFA is a conglomerate of independent and private rail freight operators which represents those groups in dealings with Brussels. It is recognised by the European Railway Agency (ERA) and primarily focused on safeguarding intramodal and intermodal competitiveness in the rail freight market.