Position papers

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.

Joint position on noise abatement

Consultation document of the Commission's Services - Rail noise abatement measures addressing the existing fleet

Sector representatives are pleased by the activity of the DG TREN since they support lowering of environmental impacts of transport system, including those of rail vehicles.

It is worth to mention that railways already procure new vehicles with composite brake blocks and bear the risk on their own account.

The cost efficiency of freight rail transport is one of the key issues and any one sided additional financial burden imposed to rail sector will affect its competitiveness and result in a potential modal shift from rail to road with an adverse effect on the environment which would be inconsistent with the EU’s transport and environmental policy objectives.

The retrofit process shall not create any new charges for wagon owners and consequently for their clients, in order to prevent any additional financial burden on the railway freight transportation market.

Our policy suggestion would be:

  • to favour European and national subsidies for the short term retrofitting, providing those national subsidies do not distort competition between rail freight operators. A part of the financial means could be transferred from infrastructure measures, provided the overall effects for infrastructure managers in terms of costs and benefits are neutral. Differential track access charges could be used at a later date to maintain a silent freight fleet, however not before the end of the migration phase.
  • not to impose legally binding measures on freight operators, especially since the type and cost of solutions vary considerably depending on the wagon-fleet considered and since important technological issues remain unsolved, Freight wagon owners shall be free to make the choice of technology for retrofitting.

More generally sector representatives consider a global cost-analysis should be performed taking into consideration the overall social efficiency of these measures, including their externalities and potential adverse effects on the modal shift between rail and road.

UIP position paper on the quality and integrity of freight wagons

Assuring the Quality and Integrity of Wagons in European Rail Freight Traffic

Traditionally State Railway Undertakings integrated Private Rail Freight Wagons in their own fleets by means of a registration contract and supervised both wagon maintenance and workshops on the basis of UIC leaflet 433, RIV and the COTIF convention of 9th May 1980. The EU liberalisation policy ended the special relationship between Railway Undertaking (RU) and the P-Wagon Owner and consequently the new COTIF (1999) introduced the Wagon Keeper as the responsible entity for a freight wagon, being either a RU or a P-Wagon Owner. Equally, freight wagons are not supposed to be treated differently based on ownership.

The traditional responsibilities of State railways such as registration, putting into service and overseeing safety were taken over by the National Safety Authorities (NSAs). This new situation, created by the abolition of monopolistic structures and the emergence of neutral responsibility for freight wagons by a “keeper” which is comparable to the situation in road transport, was not sufficiently considered when drafting the EU legislation on safety within the Community’s railways. Therefore, according to Article 4. 3 of the Directive 2004/49/EC, the responsibility for the safe operation of the railway system and the control of associated risks was laid exclusively on railway undertakings and infrastructure managers but omitted the independent “keepers” which represent a third of the European rail freight wagons.

UIP Proposal

The keeper of wagons should be introduced into the list of definitions of the Directive 2004/49/EC. This definition could serve as a reference to the different legal texts granting already limited responsibility to a keeper for his wagons. It is reminded
that already some national legislations (Germany, Poland) have foreseen obligations for the wagon keeper.

On the basis of this definition the wagon keeper should encompass responsibility for a vehicle in respect of its compliance to mandatory safety standards and maintenance regime.

To meet the safety requirements of the RU, a Standard Maintenance Format for all Keepers should be drawn up which supports both the ongoing use of current maintenance standards for existing wagons and the maintenance regime for new TSI

In this framework the keeper should have :
• A Maintenance Policy
• A Maintenance Plan for each type of wagon, listing actions to be undertaken at required periods. Existing RU plans should be made available to independent keepers free of charge.
• A Safety Performance Monitoring System (SPM) which enables the Keeper to meet the requirements of EU Directive 2001/16/EC Article 18 par.3 to effect the required constant or routine monitoring, adjustment and maintenance.

Such an SPM allows the keeper to control the safety requirements for his wagons, to set the pace for his maintenance and review his costs in an efficient but safe manner.
It is proposed, in addition, that the keeper’s safety maintenance system will be subject to accreditation by an NSA accredited body independent from an RU.
By so doing it can be demonstrated that the Keeper ensures safety in accordance with the requirements of EU safety rules and TSIs.