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MEPs vote in favour of improving rail freight in Europe

Date

31 Mar 2009

Sections

Transport

An important step towards improving the quality of international rail freight transport in Europe was
taken today, when MEPs voted by a very large majority in favour of proposed new rules aimed at
creating a competitive freight network.

In December 2008, the European Commission issued a proposal to create trans‐European corridors on
which greater priority, both in path allocation and traffic management, would be granted to certain
types of freight traffic. The European rail sector supported this initiative, which has the potential to
overcome some of the challenges facing international rail freight in Europe.

The European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM) and the Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE) welcome the result of today’s vote in the European Parliament Transport Committee, and the support given by Parliamentarians to a number of key aspects of the Commission’s proposal. In ticular, the rail sector has long called for the definition of the new corridors to be based on the needs of the market, and for the bodies set up to manage corridors to receive adequate funding from
the EU. The industry also welcomes the important role given to infrastructure and terminal managers in the Commission proposal, as well as the development of implementation plans, performance indicators and performance schemes.

The strengthening of the role of Regulatory Bodies in case of disputes and in monitoring the consistency of performance schemes is also welcomed as this should increase competition and transparency. The inclusion of provisions to allow other players in the logistics chain, such as freight forwarders or port operators, known as “authorised applicants,” to apply for train paths along freight corridors is a positive step in this direction.
Michael Clausecker, Director General of UNIFE, said: “The measures proposed have the potential to alleviate some of the obstacles encountered by international rail freight. They complement existing European railway legislation, such as the first and second railway packages, as well as the ERTMS deployment plan currently being debated by the European institutions”.

EIM and UNIFE welcome the pragmatic approach taken by MEPs to the way certain freight trains will be granted effective priority, both in timetable definition and traffic management. In case of a traffic disturbance, infrastructure managers should be allowed to take decisions that focus on the reduction of delays to priority freight trains while trying to minimise overall delays.

Michael Robson, Secretary General of EIM, said: “The market‐oriented approach should be further developed in order to allow more flexibility, both for the creation of corridors and for the management of freight traffic on these corridors, which will eventually boost rail freight growth through delivering improved train performance.”
The proposed regulation must still be voted on by the European Parliament as a whole and be approved by national governments before it comes into force.

***ENDS***

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