Press releases

House of Rail will relaunch Rail Freight

Private Rail Freight Sector will relaunch Rail Freight

Six years ago in the White Paper on European Transport Policy the European Commission stated that rail had a strategic role to play by hoping to rebalance a system dominated by road. The aim was to revitalize European railways in order to achieve a modal shift before 2010 and to regain the traffic level achieved in 1998 (17 % of all land transport modes in tkm).

This objective is now clearly out of reach. Main shortcomings responsible for the failure are:
  • The EU market share of traditional Railway Undertakings is still about 90 %, more than 10 years after the start of the liberalisation process ! Only in the few countries, where genuine competition exists, the share of rail freight has improved.
  • Prices for the access to and the use of infrastructure and related facilities are neither transparent nor competitive, or reflecting the terms of the 1st Railway Package in respect of marginal costs.
  • The third railway package with its passenger charter has lead to a deterioration of rail freight quality due to the fact that the foreseen penalties for delayed passenger trains makes it mandatory for both the Infrastructure Manager and the Railway Undertakings to favour passenger trains over freight trains when managing a congested part of the network..
  • Competition between the rail freight sector and other transport modes still does not take place on equal terms. In particular, costs imposed in the sector of road and aviation are not borne by those which are responsible for creating the costs.


Joint Statement - UIC, ERFA and UIP on EU proposals to Wagon Keeper issues

UIC, ERFA and UIP welcome that the EU Commission proposals:
  • acknowledge the need to define and integrate the concept of keeper on the level of the Safety and Interoperability Directives;
  • refer to the definition of the keeper in COTIF 1999 in order to avoid inconsistencies;
  • acknowledge the keeper s responsibility for the maintenance of his wagon;
  • provide for the Commission to be authorized to establish a maintenance certification system for keepers.

In addition, the undersigned associations would like to emphasize the following points, which should be considered in the further discussions of the proposals:  
  • The entry of the keeper in the National Vehicle Register (NVR) should not just be an option, but mandatory as has already been proposed by the respective ERA working group with regard to the NVRs.
  • The definition of the keeper in the Directives should make additional reference to the keeper s registration in the NVR, as it is already the case in the TAF TSI and has been recommended to be included in ATMF by the respective OTIF working group. This would help to clearly identify the keeper of each wagon, and would be more precise than the COTIF 1999 definition of the keeper, but not be in contradiction to it.
  • It should be clarified in the proposed Article 14b of the amended Safety Directive (and other parts of the EU proposals, where applicable) that the entity responsible for the maintenance of a wagon is the keeper of the wagon. Railway undertakings (RUs) with regard to their own wagons are keepers of their wagons. This is in line with the terminology and the understanding laid down in the General Contract of Use for Wagons (GCU), which as of 1 January 2007 is now applicable to approximately 700 000 rail freight wagons the vast majority of all rail freight wagons existing in Europe.
  • The different roles of the RUs as train operators and keepers of own wagons and the corresponding responsibilities with regard to maintenance need to be clearly distinguished. The responsibility for generally organizing the maintenance for the individual wagons should lie with the respective keepers (whether being RUs or not). Under the Safety Directive, for a RU as train operator the responsibility with regard to maintenance should be limited to ensuring operational safety.
  • A mandatory maintenance certification system for keepers of wagons should be established as soon as possible.

ERFA, ERFCP, FandL and UIP join forces to open up the rail freight market

Today, ERFA (European Rail Freight Association), ERFCP (European Rail Freight Customers Platform), F&L (European Freight and Logistics Leaders Forum) and UIP (International Union of Private Wagons) have signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) to work jointly towards full market liberalisation, the emerging of competing rail operators and open access to all rail facilities in Europe. The signatories encompass Shippers, Transport and Logistic Providers, Private Railway Undertakings and Private Wagon Companies and cover an important and growing segment of Rail Freight Transport. They commit themselves in future to speak with one voice in Europe on matters of common interests. Nevertheless, they will remain independent and be free to pursue issues which are particular to their respective organisations.

The signatories share the conviction that an efficient freight transport system requires higher quality and productivity of rail freight services which can only be achieved through intramodal competition.