Cargo trains could pay less for infrastructure access

Jan 18th, 2012 | Category: Articles, Current issue F&L, january 12, Policies & Strategies

The development of the railway sector, since the adoption of the First Railway Package, has failed to meet the expectations concerning the recovery of the sector. For example, from 1996 to 2008, the modal share of railway freight transport has decreased by 2%, reaching 10.6%, while the modal share of roads in the transport of goods had dropped from 42.1% to 45.9%.

This situation is even more worrying as it accentuates a constant total increase of 2.3% of road transport every year. The railway sector could not turn into account an environment that was generally favourable. While trucks and airplanes are crossing the borders easily, cross-border railway services are confronted with several technical, legal and political obstacles. The directives, making the first railway package have not prevented the presence of a significant variation of structure, track access charging levels and form and duration of capacity allocation procedures, reason enough to make 2011 a year of the different debates on provisions. At the middle of November, the European Parliament adopted the proposals for the recast of the First Railway Package and, in turn, the European Council has given favourable vote on the recast and establishment of a single European railway area on December 13.
The recast of this first railway package should contribute to the development of a European railway area. Rapporteur Debora Serracchiani, the initiator of the concerned project, supports this objective for which the European Parliament has already given favourable vote during the debates on previous railway packages. The current reform should exceed the limits of the nationally defined railway interests.
In conformity with the latest amendments, when a member state applies the charging on the effects caused by road freight transport noise based on the Union’s legislation, the track access charges in the respective member state has to be amended to consider the cost of the effects of the noise caused by train operation. The respective amendments of the track access charges permit the return of investments made for equipping the railway vehicles with the most economically viable technology of the moment that will allow braking at a lower noise level. Member states make sure that the introduction of different charges will not have negative consequences on the financial balance of the infrastructure manager.
Another amendment included in the draft directive stipulates that the different demands submitted by railway undertakings for obtaining infrastructure access can be rejected only if there are solid alternatives that permit the operation of the respective service of freight or passenger transport on the same route under financially acceptable conditions. When a railway operator is denied the access to infrastructure ser-
vices, the infrastructure manager is expected to prove the existence of a financially and technically viable alternative to which the applicant can call to without increasing costs. It is also mandatory that the infrastructure manager will explain its decision in written.
The temporary reduction in the track access charges for ETCS-equipped trains should represent a real stimulus for using this technology. Consequently, in the new text adopted the level of discounts has increased, thus for 2015, 2016 and 2017, the discount for cargo trains could be of up to 20%, a 15% discount could be applied for 2018 and a 10% discount for 2019. The level of the discount would thus drop gradually as the number of ETCS-equipped trains will grow. An 8% discount is expected for 2020 and a 4% discount for 2022, while in 2023 and 2024, the expected discount is 3%.

[ by Elena Ilie ]


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