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Challenging the Status Quo: UIRR Proposes Enhancements to New Rail Regulation

Challenging the Status Quo: UIRR Proposes Enhancements to New Rail Regulation
photo: RAILTARGET Archive/Challenging the Status Quo: UIRR Proposes Enhancements to New Rail Regulation
27 / 10 / 2023

The Commission’s proposal for a new Rail Infrastructure Capacity Management Regulation, published as part of the Greening Freight Transport Package (GFTP), is greeted by UIRR as a promising start. The UIRR position paper takes stock of the merits of the proposal and suggests some improvements to it.

The starting position of operators of intermodal freight trains is the need for more and better-quality train paths. Today 5-6 passenger trains fall on each freight train that runs on the European railway network. Every second rail freight tonne-kilometre is produced by an intermodal train, 90% of which crosses at least one national border.

The growth in the number of passenger trains has considerably outpaced passenger ridership. The trend coincides with a “not-in-my-backyard" mentality when building additional railway lines. Today, European transport policy objectives must be met largely using the existing railway network.

These objectives include doubling the rail freight market share until 2050. A performance of 800-1000 billion tonne-kilometre will require the doubling of the number of freight trains that run every day on the European network.

As the tool to achieve this outcome, the Commission’s proposal foresees a socio-economic and environmental cost-benefit analysis. UIRR proposes to reinforce these with the following:

  1. A minimum train length requirement on “highly utilised and congested lines”,
  2. the removal of the “own network” and the “modal” constraints on the bypass capacity design, and
  3. the introduction of European train path categories and their hierarchy.

“The cost-benefit analysis based on socio-economic and environmental criteria should unequivocally reflect the value of a freight train to European citizens and the economy.  Ultimately, this should lead to a more balanced access to the rail infrastructure for freight,” stated UIRR President Ralf-Charley Schultze.

The new structural and organisational choices defined in the proposal would need to be firmed up, particularly by the reinforcement of the Review Body consisting of railway undertakings, authorised applicants and terminal managers. A uniform methodology for the socio-economic and environmental cost-benefit analysis should be defined in the implementing act.

UIRR will deliver its amendment proposals to this highly technical Regulation to both the European Council and the European Parliament, with the hope of enhancing the Regulation’s capabilities of providing the number and quality of train paths the rail freight sector needs to fulfil the European Union policy objectives.

Source: UIRR