Rail Forum Europe supports the Commission’s proposals on the 4th Railway Package
12 April 2013 • Author: Rail Forum Europe
Members of the European Parliament and railway stakeholders broadly support the European Commission’s proposal on the 4th Railway Package to make the European rail sector more competitive. The need for full interoperability and reduced administrative burdens were emphasised at a Rail Forum Europe dinner on “4th Railway Package – Towards a Single European railway market” focussing on market opening and the role of the European Railway Agency (ERA) held on 10 April in the European Parliament in Brussels and sponsored by CER (the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies) and FSI (Italian Railways).
Brian Simpson, Chairman of the EP’s Transport Committee and Rail Forum Europe President, introduced the event by stressing the need to simplify authorisation procedures for rolling stock in Europe. In this respect, he expressed his surprise at the outcome of the March Council meeting where Member States opposed an enhanced role for ERA. “There is no reason to be scared of giving increased powers to ERA. We must work together to highlight the needs of the European rail industry,” he said.
Mauro Moretti, CEO of FS Italiane and chairman of CER, applauded the 4th Railway Package, highlighting that it will shape the future of the European Railway Industry especially with regard to the liberalisation of domestic rail passenger transport. “The Italian experience is remarkable. Thanks also to market opening we moved from operating at a loss to a well-established and profitable company. High speed rail passengers grew by 15% from 2011 to 2012, and passengers on Trenitalia open-access services grew by 6,5%” he said.
He emphasised that CER fully supports the enhanced role of the ERA, the single safety certificate and common procedures for the homologation of rolling stock, adding, “All of this will dramatically reduce costs for railway undertakings and help Europe to keep the lead on technological innovation.”
Finally, Mr. Moretti, recalling his experience of over 35 years as rail-man in FS Italiane, stated the importance of coordination between infrastructure manager and operator teams to develop technology for both infrastructure and rolling stock, “otherwise” he said “in the coming years leadership of the rail industry will pass to the Japanese and Chinese.”
Marcel Verslype, Executive Director of the ERA, said that the Agency’s mission is to make the railway system work better for society. In this respect, he emphasised the necessity of the current Agency’s tasks that must continue and the economic benefits of simplification of vehicle authorisation procedures and of network harmonisation. He highlighted the potential solutions provided by the 4th Railway Package to a number of further existing problems, “Many problems can be solved by reinforcing the role of the ERA” he said.
He explained the tasks for ERA in the next three to four years: continuing the explanation and clarification of the framework for shaping the required base for the future and, in parallel, preparing the implementation of the proposals. He concluded: “We have to work on solutions with all stakeholders especially on the relation between ERA and the NSAs”.
Keir Fitch, deputy head of cabinet of Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas, commented that the ultimate objective for the rail sector should be to provide better services to clients. For this to happen, “we should focus on three aspects: interoperability, governance and market opening”. He concluded, “interoperability is about guaranteeing safety while bringing down costs. The Commission’s proposal on the 4th Railway Package will help on this.”
Philippe Citroën, Director General of UNIFE, expressed full support for the technical pillar of the 4th Railway Package to reduce the current heavy burden of authorisation procedures, stating, “We hope that the technical pillar will be adopted under the term of the current Parliament.”
Gesine Meissner, Member of the EP’s Transport Committee and Rail Forum Europe Board Member suggested that “ERA should act as a supervisor for NSAs and free movement of people and freight should be a priority” and reflected on “ the recipe to convince the Council.”
CER Executive Director Libor Lochman highlighted that the so called technical pillar is, indeed, the key to opening the market and, therefore, has a high political value. “This is why I hope that all market oriented legislators will realise the urgency with which the rail sector is waiting for a final decision on these texts. Speeding up the process and coming to a vote as soon as possible should be a top priority for both Parliament and Council” he said.
Rail Forum Europe will hold its next dinner event on 29 May 2013 in Brussels. On this occasion, the MEPs will address the issue of rail noise.
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Brian Simpson MEP (President), Gesine Meissner MEP (Vice-President), Michael Cramer MEP (Vice-President), Ines Ayala-Sender MEP, Georges Bach MEP ,Jean-Jacob Bicep MEP, Jan Březina MEP, Antonio Cancian MEP, Philippe De Backer MEP, Saïd El Khadraoui MEP, Ismail Ertug MEP, Malcolm Harbour MEP, Edit Herczog MEP, Danuta Hübner MEP, Jo Leinen MEP, Boguslaw Liberadzki MEP, Dominique Riquet MEP, Andreas Schwab MEP, Debora Serracchiani MEP, Evžen Tošenovský MEP, Karim Zeribi MEP.
Executive Secretary: Leonardo Dongiovanni