The European Shippers Council has denounced a European Court’s recent judgment that gave a Deutsche Bahn subsidiary management of the German railways.
The European Union had brought a court challenge alleging that Germany wasn’t properly adhering to unbundling, a measure in the current EU railway package that separates rail transport and infrastructure management services, achieving a greater level of competition in the European railway sector.
The court ruled, however, that German officials properly separated rail transport services from rail infrastructure management. The suit was supported by the Czech and Italian governments, and the ESC is worried they might be the next countries to embrace this ruling.
In a similar but separate case, Austrian officials were found to have effectively unbundled their railway services.
“While we respect the court's interpretation of the current law, the commission remains convinced that a more effective separation between an infrastructure manager and other rail operations is essential to ensure non-discriminatory access for all operators to the rail tracks, and thus to stimulate growth in the rail sector,” the European Comission’s Siim Kallas said in a statement after the ruling.
Officials from Hungary and Spain, in two different cases, were found to have not complied with the unbundling measure.
ESC supports full unbundling of the railway sector, as laid out by the commission’s fourth railway package, because “the present quality of rail freight services often is poor, and the costs are too high,” according to a press release. - Jon Ross