Railway stakeholders have welcomed European Commission plans to reduce rail freight transportation times, improve punctuality and help rail to compete with road transport. But they underlined that member states would need to show genuine political will for the proposals to be a success.
The Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation asking member states, infrastructure operators and all other relevant stakeholders to get their act together and coordinate investment to create a European network for competitive rail freight.
The aim is to establish international rail corridors, providing operators with an efficient, high-quality freight transport infrastructure to make rail a more attractive option for long-distance freight transport, said Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani.
“Member states are, and will remain, free to suggest or sketch out these corridors themselves,” he added.
The proposal on European rail freight corridors relates to:
- Their design and governance (proposed by a member state, part of TEN-T [Trans-European Networks for Transport], and justified on the basis of socio-economic analysis);
- investment in infrastructure, terminals and equipment (a long-term investment plan referring to Community contributions via TEN-T);
- their operation (creating a transparent ‘one-stop shop’ for requests for international train routes, defining priority freight for the transportation of time-sensitive goods).
The proposal complements a process already underway to deploy a European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), which aims to replace various national train control and command systems and create common European signalling standards to allow trains to cross borders without stopping.
The Commission also notes that the current review of TEN-T policy provides an opportunity to coordinate investment.