What is in the new legislative package to create a single European railway area?




17 Dec 2013


Brussels, Belgium



Edited Package
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The Fourth Railway Package is meant to modernise and better harmonise Europe`s fragmented railway system.

Since 2001 when the goal of a single European railway area was first formally established, cutting back national railway authorities power while improving cross-border competition and thus better conditions for investment have been key aims...

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Aims which have proved to be very ambitious, indeed.

Much as a Single European Sky has been about an on-going battle between the overarching interest of the Union and the more special interests of the Member States, so too has been the quest for a so-called Single European Rail Area…

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Transport by rail is efficient and climate-friendly, but currently it only carries about 10% of European cargo and 6% of passengers each year.

Belgian MEP Mathieu Grosch, who is the EPP Group Coordinator for the 4th Railway Package,drew an analogy with buying a car.

MEP Mathieu Grosch, EPP Group Coordinator

01:18 - 01:40

When you put a car today on the market in Europe you can drive the day after all through Europe. But when you put a new vehicle on the rails tomorrow they need about two years to have a certification in each country and for each country it costs around 2 million Euros so this makes the rails so expensive and so slow.

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The freight sector meanwhile, measured in tonnes per kilometre, contracted about 5 percent last year, in line with the economic downturn. The recession was expected to drive further losses in 2013.
Grosch said greater efficiency is key.

MEP Mathieu Grosch
02:05 - 02:30

What we try to introduce as Parliament and even add to the proposals of the Commission is to say we want contracts with efficiency targets tomorrow. And we speak now about the number of passengers to reach in the next years the punctuality because this is very important I think. Asserting the quality of the rolling stock, And I think these aspects are for us even more important than just opening the market and saying competition will solve it.

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Meanwhile railway infrastructure investment has been boosted by the EU over the past 20 years, and recently received a Commission pledge of 1 billion Euros in research and innovation to get more passengers and freight onto Europe's railways.

Libor Lochman is Executive Director of the European Community of Railway and Infrastructure Companies. He says the situation is improving for rail, but there is still a ways to go…

Libor Lochman,
Exec. Director
Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER)

02:39 - 02:51

We have been much less satisfied, less say, with the radical imposition of the change of the governance structure of the railways because we believe that we have to be a bit more cautious since you have to operate a rail system in its entirety.

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Lochman, speaking on behalf of Europe´s 32 main railway and rail infrastructure managing bodies, agreed that overcoming the technical issues would make a Schengen on rails possible...But.

Libor Lochman, Exec. Director CER

03:23 -- 03:50

We should definitely aim at having something like no borders for the trains across the European railway network but this will require massive investment into the railways because historically for the last 150 years the railways have developed within the borders of the states. So to overcome that we have to involve especially the interoperable constituents, the components which enable us to operate the trains across the border...

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Mathieu Grosch was also concerned that technical differences particular to railways could still hinder the development of a single market.

MEP Mathieu Grosch
03:07 -- 03:28

You don´t even have it in airplanes. We have Airbus because we had a European approach between all the techniques in the different countries. You have it for the cars, you have it for the lorries, and you even have it for the ships. So I think this is really this new approach is to make out of 27 rail markets one European rail market.

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Incentives designed to minimise disruption and improve performance on the network are also part of the package; this is to be managed by the European Railways Agency.

A last key element is management independence for railway transport in the Member States, and better long term planning for financing infrastructure, to be completed by December of 2014.

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This is ultimately about creating new jobs and a more efficient public service responsive to the needs of passengers and freight operators alike.
For the European rail industry recovery to get back on track, all member states need to be on board and not miss their connection to a more efficient continent-wide system.

Find out more about the activities of Parliament´s largest political force by going to eppgroup.eu. Thanks for looking in and see you again soon.

What is in the new legislative package to create a single European railway area?

Today a new step has been taken towards a single railway area

European Parliament, EPP Group, 4th Railway Package, Trans-European Networks, Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), European Railways Agency, Mathieu Grosch, Libor Lochman
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  • Ioannis Zografos
    EPP TV Managing Producer
    +32(0) 2 284 18 45