Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rail Freight Group Welcomes EU Decision

Compromise Reached on 'Single European Railway Area'
Shipping News Feature

UK – EUROPE – Unsurprisingly the Rail Freight Group (RFG) has welcomed wholeheartedly the agreement which has been reached between the EU member states, the European Parliament and the Commission on the First Railway Package Recast. The organisation, which represents over one hundred member companies from the freight and logistics sector to retailers like Marks and Spencer’s feels the settlement encourages the development of intermodal services throughout the EU. RFG Chairman Tony Berkeley commented:

“Firstly, we congratulate the European Parliament and its Transport Committee chaired by Brian Simpson MEP, the European Commission and the Council for reaching agreement. We also await with interest the expected decision from the European Court later this year on Infraction proceedings against 13 member states for non-compliance with the original First Railways Package of 2001.

“If the Commission wins, then we hope and expect all member states to implement the necessary legislation without delay so that the benefits of full liberalisation, transparency and greater separation of Infrastructure Manager from all train operators will for the first time great a truly open, competitive market in rail freight, leading to strong growth. The UK has had this structure for 15 years, and rail freight continues to grow – intermodal traffic grew 11% in the last year. We would like to see this happen across Europe.”

Denmark has seen a process of continuous negotiation since starting its period of Presidency and Minister for Transport Mr Henrik Dam Kristensen said yesterday:

“I am pleased that we agreed on a new and better framework for railway traffic in Europe today. With the agreement, we have taken an important step towards developing the European railway. I expect the new rules to engender more passengers and more goods transport by rail in Europe. An efficient railway sector benefits both citizens and businesses alike and is an important piece of the puzzle in terms of strengthening growth in Europe.”

The RFG believe that the agreement, the wording of which was approved yesterday after its drafting last week, takes forward the liberalisation process for all Europe’s railways, something for which the RFG has campaigned for years since it will allow full open access for all operators to rail networks and terminals, and better and more independent regulation. The RFG statement says the deal will result in better access to rail related facilities, such as shunting, refuelling for all operators, which it says must be independently managed without discrimination.

The agreement also provides for closer co-operation and consultation between train operators and infrastructure managers, particularly the requirement to produce five year strategic plans on maintenance, renewals and investments to improve the network capacity together with a better and independent regulation of the market, as well as better collaboration between the regulatory bodies.

The published agreement can be seen HERE.