While the European Shippers Council agrees that the European Union’s 4th Railway Package, which was released last month and is now up for debate, will do much to liberalize and provide wider access to the rail market, the organization thinks it needs to address additional issues.
The Brussels-based organization is calling for a “holistic approach” and a unified approach to discussions of the railway package.
The European Union’s current package includes measures to open up the constricted railroad market, promote better quality and efficiency among operators, and link the continent together through rail. The European Union wants to create new Europe-wide standards for trains and a single safety certificate for operators to eliminate costly duplication and provide more protections for rail workers, among other measures.
European Parliament and the separate governments of each member state must approve the proposal before it becomes law. Many of the proposed rule changes, such as opening up the market to new players, are to be rolled out by 2019.
The ESC alleges, though, that the current proposal won’t be sufficient without the passage of the three previous railway packages. Also, financing for these projects must be guaranteed in order to truly make a difference. The organization would also like to see single-railcar load service improvements be made a priority. Finally, there needs to be some oversight.
“The creation of a European Regulatory Body is needed to fill in existing regulatory gaps,” the ESC wrote in a white paper. “This new entity can ensure the coordination of Regulatory Bodies and serve as an appeal body for them. Moreover, it can provide the necessary support to the Commission to refine the charging methodologies.
The group points to the road and air transportation sectors as models for the rail industry, calling out that they both became more innovative and dynamic after liberalization. Even with existing laws for rail transport, the ESC sees that many of the EU member states don't agree with liberalization efforts for the rail sector.
intra-modal competition leads to inter-modal competitiveness," the organization wrote, "the ESC calls upon the European
Commission to effectively continue to strongly promote the liberalisation of railways." - Jon Ross