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Investment in rail can bring the economy back on track, rail chiefs say


10 Jun 2009



Rail infrastructure CEOs urge the European institutions to ensure adequate financing of rail
infrastructure in times of crisis. Meeting in Warsaw on 5 June, the chief executives of European rail
infrastructure companies discussed the impact of the current economic downturn on the rail industry, and proposed measures to reduce the impact of the crisis on the most environmentally friendly land transport mode, while providing a boost to the European economy as a whole.

“Investment in rail has an important role to play in resolving the economic crisis,” they said.

The annual ‘High Level Infrastructure Meeting’, co‐organised by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and the association of European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM), provides an opportunity for the top management of rail infrastructure companies to debate the issues facing the industry at the highest levels. This year’s meeting, hosted by the Polish infrastructure manager, PKP PLK, focussed on the economic downturn, as well as on the revision of the trans‐
European transport network (TEN‐T), the importance of multi‐annual contracts for infrastructure financing, and the interoperability of Europe’s rail network.

Johannes Ludewig, Executive Director of CER, said: “Investing in modern and well‐maintained rail
infrastructure is essential for improving the competitiveness of European railways. This will not only
help alleviating the negative impact of transport on the climate but also support economic recovery with a lasting positive effect. However, to allow railways to play their part, fair transport pricing mechanisms have to be introduced at the European level.”

Michael Robson, Secretary General of EIM, said: “As today’s meeting showed, when working together the rail industry can play a significant role in boosting Europe’s economy. Properly structured investment in rail infrastructure ‐ including the use of PPPs ‐ will create and sustain employment, improve productivity and increase service quality for customers – all the while reducing transport’s impact on the environment.”

Opening the conference, Jonathan Scheele, Director for TEN‐T at the European Commission, argued that infrastructure managers and railway operators have to work together effectively to create a competitive rail system. When building the TEN‐T, the focus needs to be on creating an efficient network rather than national projects, he went on to say.

The first half of the day, chaired by Zbigniew Szafrański, President, of PKP‐PLK, focussed on maintaining railways’ economic viability in times of crisis. Multi‐ annual contracts were presented as a basis for ensuring the financial stability of infrastructure managers. However, additional sources of financing for major projects, such as public private partnerships (PPPs), were discussed. While the impact of the crisis on rail revenues was noted, the CEOs felt that the future is still bright for railways, due to the large amounts currently being invested in rail infrastructure.

The afternoon session, chaired by Bert Klerk, President of ProRail and EIM, focussed on interoperability of infrastructure. The presentations showed that initiatives of the railway sector, such as the interoperability task force launched at the last HLIM, have seen significant progress. While such initiatives demonstrate the progress that the railways can make when the various stakeholders work together, there is still a great deal of work to do. This requires the support and financing of public

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