The Future of European – by MEP Mathieu GROSCH

The European Commission, the European Parliament and most of the Member States in Europe see the challenge of mobility in the context of efficiency, environmental impact, safety and security.
Compared to other transport sectors railway has a great safety and environmental impact balance, but at the same time a comparatively low rate in the transport modal share. In freight transport the share of railways is around 7 %; concerning passenger transport it is only around 6 %. What are the reasons for this situation, what are the weaknesses of the railway. Member States have different levels of development of their rail infrastructure and their rail operators. But almost all of them are confronted with the challenge of infrastructure maintenance and infrastructure investment planning. This is the first “weakness” of the rail sector. This challenge remains largely in the competence of the Member States concerning the road and rail corridors. A new European financial instrument has been created in order to build new infrastructure and maintain existing infrastructure as well as to eliminate bottlenecks.
However this instrument is not meant to meet the requirements of all infrastructure problems in Europe. The second “weakness” is the fact that the national domestic passenger markets still remain closed. This is even much worse, because the domestic rail passenger services account for more than 94 % of the EU rail passenger market. According to the European Commission in particular the possibility of direct award without any competition would lead to a lack of efficiency in the domestic passenger markets. From the European Parliament´s point of view the establishment of mandator y efficiency criteria would be an important step in order to diminish the underperforming of the rail passenger services in terms of quality of service and operational efficiency. This would then convince more people to travel by rail.
A third “weakness” of the rail sector lies in the fact that there are currently over 11,000 different national technical and safety rules in the 28 Member States. The lack of harmonised European technical standards is a real problem. It hampers access to the railway market and avoids cross-border railway services and therefore the creation of a single European transport market. Additionally technical and administrative hurdles create excessive administrative costs. To adapt a rail vehicle from one Member State to the requirements of another Member State in order to be allowed to perform in that other State costs around 2 million Euros.
The correspondent safety certification process takes around 2 years. The European Commissions´ proposals for an EU wide vehicle authorisation, an EU wide safety certificate for operators and for the creation of enhanced cooperation between the national safety authorities and the European Railway Agency is an adequate reply to the existing problems. Member States have either the possibility to further split the national railway markets, or to use this possibility to pave the way to a European technology, as was already realised in the lorry, car and even the air sector (e.g. Airbus).
All the decisions of the Member States in order to eliminate these weaknesses relating to the European railway sector will not just strengthen the European railway industry on an international level, but will also enhance overall efficiency of rail and mobility, so that the overall share of European railway passenger transport could increase from 6 to 10 % and 250,000 sustainable jobs based on a good employment conditions could be created.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.