Joint position paper on a European rail network for competitive freight

Joint Industry Position Paper on the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning a ‘European rail network for competitive freight’ 


Major global and European customers, shippers, forwarders, independent train operators and other representative interest groups are calling on the European Parliament Transport and Tourism Committee to support and strengthen the Commission’s proposed Regulation for the vote planned on the 31st March 2009. All share the merit of this proposal which aims to set reasonable priority rules for rail freight and are asking MEP’s and institutions to proceed in the direction of swift approval, while strengthening its content.

These groups and companies comprise the majority of the European transport and logistics industry, traders, manufacturers and many train operators, all wishing to increase their use of rail. They have been calling on the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers for more than two years to create a rail network partly or wholly dedicated to freight so that they can obtain or provide efficient, cost effective and reliable services. They may compete with each other and with other modes but they all need a single market for freight on rail as should be the case for all modes of transport.

Such companies will invest to improve services and efficiencies if they can have the confidence that they can have fair and consistent access to tracks and terminals, sidings and last miles, service reliability for the whole chain (including trains, loading and unloading processes, dispatching), minimal technical and legal problems with frontiers and a reasonable priority for the goods being transported.

Recognising the great potential of rail freight corridors for increasing the competitiveness of rail freight transport, the Commission has invested € 4m in the New OPERA project intended to create a network of new and upgraded routes to enable rail freight to triple in volume by 2020. This draft Regulation is the first stage in implementing it on a wider scale.

It will make rail freight more competitive and genuinely seamless from one border of the EU to the other. This is what European industry at large needs and what Europe deserves. It is also one of the building blocks of any future European rail freight strategy.

We expect and hope that, because of the strategic importance of a single freight network for its users – but also for industry, environment and the citizens – the EU and the Member States will provide the necessary investment on these corridors to enable better quality and growth; it must include not only the infrastructure but also sidings, interior and sea ports, airports plus open access yards and terminals. It should be  included in individual Member States’ and the EU’s economic stimulus programmes.

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