Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Rail Freight Body Suggests English as European Commission Consults on Train Driver Language Skills

Rastatt Tunnel Collapse Prompts Changes
Shipping News Feature
EUROPE – Following last year's tunnel collapse at Rastatt, Germany the hundreds of freight train cancellations and resultant multi-million costs were largely down to the lack of drivers without the legally required minimum language skills to allow them to cross borders with their charges. Now the European Commission has requested feedback for the amendment to Annex VI of the Train Driver Directive to improve the situation via a draft regulation consultation which runs to July 20.

In response the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA) has suggested that the pilot trials mentioned in the draft amendment should be conducted along the lines of those in Switzerland, a country which has three, rather than one, commonly spoken languages. ERFA has produced a policy document outlining these proposals saying the EC should undertake at least two pilots at key borders to trial reduced language requirements through agreeing local arrangements that are safe and practical.

ERFA points out he language requirement in Switzerland is A1+, as opposed to the current B1 level of language competency required in every country they drive a train. It says the Swiss system works and the safety concerns are managed cleverly whilst the current situation is what is limiting drivers to purely local routes.

The policy paper goes on to suggest developing a glossary of key commands that can be used by both signallers and drivers, for example, if there is a need for urgent evasive action. It further suggests that the long term strategy should follow the air industry with English becoming the common language across all networks with the eradication of the B1 language requirements completely.