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Germany and the Netherlands reduce infrastructure charges, Bulgaria has increased them by 10%

Germany and the Netherlands reduce infrastructure charges, Bulgaria has increased them by 10%
photo: Archives/Railway
28 / 07 / 2021

2021 marks the European Year of Rail, an initiative proposed by the European Commission as part of the EU’s efforts under the European Green Deal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Today, the EU policy is to stimulate rail transport, but what we see in Bulgaria is in complete contradiction with it.

At the beginning of the year, the Bulgarian state-owned railway infrastructure company NRIC (National Railway Infrastructure Company) announced an increase in infrastructure charges. The price is on average about 10% higher than in 2020 but has a serious impact in the long run-on rail transport. The additional revenues are intended to co-finance the growing costs in the short term, but this will lead to an increase in prices for railway carriers and, consequently, to a decrease in freight transport. In the short run, revenues will increase, but in the long run, non-stimulation of rail transport will have a negative impact and the total share of freight transported by land will probably decrease at the expense of road transport. Despite the good and promising initiatives on the part of NRIC, such as the projects for the longest railway tunnel on the Balkan Peninsula or the railway connection between Sofia and the Adriatic, the situation with the railway freight infrastructure remains in the background.

And here comes the question, why the infrastructure charges for railway carriers are increasing, but the toll charges for road transport are decreasing?

That is, unfair competition between road and railway transport has continued for decades.

And all this at a time when the whole world is striving to reduce harmful gases and protect the environment. All this, at the time of European Year of Rail!!!

At the same time, several EU countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, are halving their TACs. Austria and Luxembourg take the opportunity to give up track access fees altogether. France abandoned TACs (Track Access Charges) in 2020 and continued to do so for the first six months of 2021. Both France and Switzerland waive cancellation fees. In addition, Switzerland is committed to supporting the railway sector with direct contributions to compensate for transport losses and other additional costs.

It`s time for all Member States to take this urgent and intelligent decision to pave the way for competitive and environmentally friendly rail transport.

It`s time for changes and we hope that the new, so long-awaited after the recent elections, Bulgarian government will pay serious attention and follow the example of other countries in the European family.