Roadmap of the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy

The International Union of Wagon Keepers (UIP) strongly supports the Commission’s plan to adopt a comprehensive strategy to meet the Green Deal target of a 90% reduction in transport-related greenhouse gas emission by 2050. This target can only be achieved by significantly increasing rail freight transport in Europe and by coming up with newer and more innovative measures than in the past. To do so, we recommend the following measures:


Higher priority must be given to rail freight in terms of capacity allocation

The COVID-crisis and the freeing up of capacity on the European railway network have shown that the quantity and quality of capacity which is offered to rail freight matters and can render rail freight more punctual and reliable, hence making it an attractive option to shippers. Therefore, higher priority must be given to rail freight on the whole network when it comes to the allocation of capacity. The revision of the Regulation (No) 913/2010 on Rail Freight Corridors (RFCs) should aim to correct the current imbalance and simplify operations and procedures.


Financial incentives for shippers to facilitate the modal shift

Until the preconditions for more efficiency in rail freight are given, financial incentives should be given to shippers to facilitate the modal shift to rail as the greenest mode of transport. Here the right financing instruments should be created, and the revised European Commission State Aid guidelines should not obstruct such national subsidies.



UIP 70th Annual Report 2019

"The beginning is the most important part of the work" Plato


The start of a new era: The European agenda of 2019 was dominated by the election of the new European Parliament, the appointment of the new European Commission and the consequences for the political landscape. While for this 9th legislature, roughly half of the members of European Parliament are new, the significant rise of the nationalists, populists and eurosceptics in most Member States was fortunately not reflected in an increase of their weight at European level. Unfortunately, in the absence of a stable majority, it remains to be seen what kind of dynamic will define parliamentary activities over the next five years.


COVID–19 - Creating a Fair and Balanced Temporary State Aid Framework for Rail Freight

Rail freight will face significant challenges to continued operations over the coming months, particularly in light of a significant slowdown in industrial output due to national measures taken to control the outbreak of COVID-19. These short-term measures could cause longer term damage to the sector, namely the disappearance of operators and capacity, if measures are not taken to support the industry. ERFA and UIP therefore call for State support measures to be granted to Infrastructure Managers coupled with a short-term waiving of Track Access Charges and Energy Charges for rail freight undertakings.

The outbreak of COVID-19, and national responses to stem to spread of the virus, have created significant challenges to the short-to-medium term viability of rail freight operations. Industrial output is limited and this is leading to a reduced demand for freight movement, including rail freight. These national responses are merited and supported, but it must still be recognised that measures are warranted to support the industry.

Given the exemptional circumstances, ERFA and UIP believe it is appropriate to use Article 107(2)(b) and Article 107(3)b of the TFEU to allow Member States to assist the sector over the coming months. Any mechanism must be horizontal, sectoral and compliant with existing competition rules. The objective of any aid must solely be to assist all operators on a short-term basis and solely address difficulties directly or indirectly related to the slowdown of economic input and reduction of traffic.

ERFA and UIP strongly believe that short-term support is essential in order to ensure that rail freight undertakings are in a healthy condition once industrial output resume. Without government actions there is a risk that operators will cease to exist or have to significantly reduce their capacity which would have a longer lasting impact on Europe’s modal shift objectives.

We therefore believe that state support is warranted and necessary, but must be done in a way that benefits the rail freight industry equally and only addresses short-term issues related to COVID-19.