Position papers

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.

 

 

GRB Position on the route compatibility check

This position paper sets out the Group of Representative Bodies’ (GRB) view on the general principles for the route compatibility check (RCC) before the use of authorised vehicles as outlined in Article 23 of the Interoperability Directive (EU) 2016/797. 


The Group of Representative Bodies asks the European Union Agency for Railways to adopt the RCC principles set out in this paper. The GRB asks for clear guidance documentation to be developed by the Agency for how the route compatibility process should be implemented in the day to day business where appropriate, either in a dedicated RCC application guide or in a section of existing guide documents.

The two concepts of technical compatibility with the network on one hand (article 21) and route compatibility on the other hand (article 23) as laid out in the interoperability directive shall be respected and kept separately. However, clear guidance is necessary to understand the content and responsibilities included and to ensure the route compatibility check performed by the railway undertaking is as easy, lean and straightforward as possible.

GRB-SFR Sector Vision for the Future of Reference Standards

The Group of Representative Bodies (GRB) and the CEN/CENELEC/ETSI Sector Forum Rail (SFR) published a position paper to set out the railway sector’s vision for how referenced standards within the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs) should be managed in the future. 

 

The proposal described in this paper aims to solve challenges faced in the sector today when applying TSIs and European standards during the conformity assessment process. The aim of the proposal is to introduce a process which allows the sector to benefit from regulatory stability while at the same time being able to apply the state-of-the-art standards.
The GRB and SFR asks the European Commission (EC) and the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) to consider this position paper and to reflect on how the future regulatory framework for the railways can be adapted to work better for the sector and for society.