CZ/SK verze

CER Welcomes EU Council’s Rail Capacity Regulation but Cites Areas for Improvement

CER Welcomes EU Council’s Rail Capacity Regulation but Cites Areas for Improvement
photo: / Public domain/EU flag
24 / 06 / 2024

EU Transport Ministers today agreed on a General Approach to the Proposal for a Regulation on the use of railway infrastructure capacity and noted the progress on the Combined Transport and Weights & Dimensions Directives. Part of the Greening Freight Transport Package, this legislation is vital to the rail sector as its impact will bring forward crucial changes to modal shift.

The Community of European Railway & Infrastructure Companies (CER) welcomes the Council’s General Approach as an important step towards the negotiations with the European Parliament but sees several areas of concern.

Regulation on the use of railway infrastructure capacity

A harmonized EU approach to capacity management is essential to facilitate the rapid expansion of cross-border rail transport at a time of scarce capacity. CER therefore regrets to see an explicit reference to the non-bindingness of European Frameworks in the Regulation proposal and urges Member States to ensure their effective implementation. CER welcomes the new coordination dialogue foreseen between Member States, European Coordinators, and the European Commission. However, it is also necessary to ensure a specific coordination mandate in the case of national guidance on conflict resolution to facilitate cross-border traffic. Moreover, the necessary EU funding must be available to implement the Regulation, especially given the new European governance structure. CER also regrets the prolonged enforcement timelines introduced in the Regulation. The rail sector supports the original deadlines proposed by the Commission (i.e. 2026 for most of the Regulation and 2029 for certain provisions of capacity management). Finally, CER appreciates the inclusion of Infrastructure Manager consultation with operational stakeholders as a constant and participative dialogue. This will be a key to success, however, we believe the Regulation should include a dedicated new platform representing the applicants requesting capacity – in particular railway undertakings – as a counterpart equivalent to the European Network of Infrastructure Managers (ENIM).

Weights & Dimensions Directive

CER welcomes the intention to promote the decarbonization of road freight, which was duly recognized in the previous amendments of the Weights and Dimensions Directive, allowing for the additional weight of zero-emission powertrains on Heavy Goods Vehicles. However, the most recent revision proposal leads to several consequences that have not been fully assessed. CER and other European organizations have ceaselessly alerted to this fact, particularly the serious risk of inducing a modal shift of freight from rail to road, which is inconsistent with the need to decarbonize road transport and safeguard the highest possible safety standards in land transport. The debate in the Council has added to these concerns, particularly regarding the impact on road infrastructure and road safety, both requiring additional investment from Member States. The proposal requires a further thorough assessment of its multiple impacts and, ultimately, of its added value, considering the already adopted measures to promote zero-emission vehicles in the Directive currently in force.

Combined Transport Directive

The proposal to revise the Combined Transport Directive is essential to enhance intermodality. With the correct incentives set in place, it can contribute to reducing transport externalities and create synergies between policies, such as the promotion of zero-emission vehicles, which may optimally be combined with long-haul trips over rail. The search for a more intuitive definition of Combined Transport must also keep track of the need to reward the operations that achieve the highest possible external cost savings. Creating more certainty through a new definition must not open the door to misleading incentives claiming support in operations involving extremely extensive road legs – a concern recognized by several Member States in the Council. It is, therefore, crucial to keep safeguarding provisions already set in the Directive, such as maintaining the 150km radius for road legs to ports. CER encourages legislators to bear this in mind while proceeding forward.

CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola said, "Today’s Council discussions pave the way for new important developments for the rail sector. We thank Member States for their efforts, particularly the Belgian Presidency for its good work over the past months. However, there are further improvements to be made and CER would like to see harmonization of capacity management processes across Europe; in particular, it is necessary to ensure a specific coordination mandate in the case of national guidance on conflict resolution to facilitate and not block cross-border traffic. Time is of the essence and we need to do it right if we want to optimize and boost existing capacity to meet the increasing demand."

Source: CER  Press Releases