Rail freight sector needs EU action

The rail freight sector needs EU action NOW! Major global and European customers, shippers, forwarders, independent train operators and other representative interest groups are calling on Transport Ministers meeting at the Transport Council on 11-12 June 2009 to accelerate liberalisation of the rail freight sector at this time of economic crisis.

Three major obstructions to liberalisation can be cleared if ministers and the Commission have the courage and political will to:

  • Approve the draft Regulation on the European rail network for competitive freight. The European Parliament completed its scrutiny before the election. Why should the Council of Ministers delay it further?
  • Require the Commission to proceed this month with infraction proceedings against member states for their failure to implement the 2001 First Railways Package. The first set of letters went out a year ago – why such a long delay in following them up?
  • Require the Commission to publish its proposed Recast of the First Railway Package by September 2009.

All these measures are capable of resolution now. Ministers must act now to enable the rail freight industry to develop strong, efficient and competitive services. These measures will enable an efficient European single market in rail freight to develop, bringing both economic and environmental benefits to member states. At present, member states still act in a very uncoordinated way, which makes cross-border rail freight services, especially for new entrants, extremely difficult and expensive. Clearly this Regulation is necessary to require them to co-operate.