“The enforcement of the rules is going to be the No. 1 issue in the future” From this point of view, the White Paper is the beginning …

During the Railway Days 2011 Summit, Zoltán  Kazatsay, Deputy Director General Directorate – DG MOVE, presented the European vision for the revitalisation of the railway sector, including the railway industry and the problems that this sector is facing, stressing the importance of implementing measures and regulations for creating a Single European Transport Area with international dimension. The following pages include the declarations Mr. Kazatsay made for our magazine explaining the problems of the railway system, the set up of the single railway market, the importance of implementing the objectives established in the White Paper on Transport and the possibility for each member state to have high-speed lines.

The European Union uses the White Paper on Transport to lay out its vision on the recovery of the railway sector, seeing as the transport is oil-dependent for 96% of the energy need. The increasing price of oil is not yet causing a drop in road transport because, based on the European Union’s statistics, oil consumption will increase from 84 million barrel/day to 100 million barrel/day by 2050 and the number of automotive vehicles will triple to 2.2 billion. These are worrying figures and, if the authorities are not adopting measures that will trigger the use of an environmentally friendly transport mode at large scale, they might become reality.
“Road traffic could be reduce especially by amending the legislation. According to these statistics, emissions will increase significantly, but if the transport sector is regulated by implementing harsh measures, we will contri-
bute to a shift from roads to rails. This is not just about freight traffic, but also about passenger traffic for which high-speed services are the best services delivered by rail transport”, declared Zoltán Kazatsay, Deputy Director General Directorate – DG MOVE, European Commission, during the Railway Days 2011 event, organised by Club Feroviar and the Romanian Railway Industry Association, on October 4-5, 2011 in Bucharest.
EU estimates show that in 2015-2016 the railway market will have a moderate growth rate of 2-2.5%, a result of reduced infrastructure investments in some member states because of the economic downturn, but also of a growth in the demand for expansing the railway network both for urban and intercity traffic. “Globally, the growth has to be constant by 2020 and this growth has to be ensured by two components: a higher growth in emerging countries and a lighter growth in deve-loped markets because of the deficits and the debts accumulated during the crisis period”, said Kazatsay.
It is in this context that the EU set up the perspectives for creating a European Single Area for freight and passenger transport in the White Paper on Transport. As for the railway transport, the 2050 vision is aimed to triple the existing length of high-speed network that should exceed the air transport growth on distances of 1,000 km and to connect these networks to airports and ports, a process which relies on railway transport. EU wants railway transport to have the majority share in freight transport by 2050 and to double its current modal share.
Among EU’s ambitious projects to be promoted and implemented, there are the implementation of the ERTMS and the connection of all ports to the European railway network. Last but not least, by 2050,   the railway freight corridors should take over freight transport and become the backbone of the entire freight transport system.
To reach these objectives, it is necessary to have a real domestic market, a modern infrastructure and a competitive railway traffic. Technological innovation is the key towards a single, interoperable market providing a single traffic system in the European railway area, capable to compete to take over the entire international transport market.
“Removing technological barriers will facilitate trade between countries as technology gaps burden rail companies in accessing different markets. EU has legislative tools that are transparent and encourage the liberalisation of the market. The International Trade Organisation already owns a report on technical barriers.
For the financial period 2014-2020, EU grants significant funds to research and innovation. We want a reliable transport system and for this, we need courage to keep going. EC Vice President, Siim Kallas, will make everything to promote railway transport, but it is necessary to have the support of all involved factors”, concluded Zoltán Kazatsay.

Railway Pro: The new White Paper on Transport mentions, for the first time in an official document of the European Union, the concept of Single European Railway Area. How can this ambitious target be met?

Zoltán Kazatsay: We certainly want to achieve a progress very fast, because this is the interest of the railway sector. However, we have to start convincing the Member States representing sometimes allegedly their incumbent railway companies, that the market opening is the only option in front of them, if they want to modernize their railway sector, if they want to make the railway sector competitive. Experience shows that in the past, those countries which opened their market first, are now in a progress: the UK, Sweden, Germany. We can see that their railway modernization is going on and they are effective. Now we have several Railway Packages which helped open the railway market, the First, Second and Third Railway Package. Practically, the railway market in the freight sector is liberalized, and the international passenger transport is also liberalized, while the domestic railway activities are going to be tackled by a new Directive, which we work on now, and we intend to come out within next year. And this is about the liberalization of the domestic railway market. It has been already forecasted for 2012, so that’s why we are working on it, and we will come out with it, of course with sufficient discussion with the Member States and the European Parliament.

Railway Pro:
Does the development of a single European railway area mean the elimination of the national network concept?

Zoltán Kazatsay: No. Definitely not. The companies registered in certain countries are going to have the possibility to work. So, for example, a railway organisation registered in Romania is going to be able to operate in  market somewhere in Spain, if they are capable to do so. It should mean that the conditions are equal and transparent. So, to have access to a network element or use the infrastructure, this is something which should be completely liberalised, setting up the Single European Railway Area. This is about the market. A second issue is the technological interoperability. Today, the railway sector uses different voltage systems and there should be a kind of interoperability possibility for them to be able to use the network of the neighbouring countries. Basically, libe-
ralisation means cooperation with the neighbouring countries. It is not very likely that a company established in Romania would intend to go to Portugal, for example. That’s a bit far away, but the likelihood for a Romanian company to operate in the Hungarian railway market, or Croatian market, is there.

Railway Pro: The infrastructure conditions and the track access charges have a dramatic impact on the quality of rail services. What should be done to boost the attractiveness of this particular transport mode?

Zoltán Kazatsay: The new Railway Package which will come out next year will tackle this issue. This is what we call the Recast of the First Railway Package, because we want to clarify the calculation methodology of the railway access charges, further on, we want to eliminate those elements which are not realistic and not serve to the other purposes than to protect the interest of the incumbent railway company of that country, especially, in the Central European countries where it usually the railway accession charges are too high, even for themselves. It is against market principles and we want to make it right. We would like to define the formulas which are going to be usable for calculating the accession fees or user charges, and in the same time, these formulas should take into consi-deration the national specificities those things that exist in one or two countries only, but which are important for these specific countries.

Railway Pro: Do you believe the European Commission has the necessary instruments to meet the set targets of the White Paper?

Zoltán Kazatsay: The intention was to establish a kind of vision for the next few decades. We finished the White Paper and now it’s out, it took two years to establish, and practically now is the beginning of the work, because the White Paper identifies the targets and the means to get to those targets, but the White Paper is not going into details. So, what we have to do now is to start changing it and put it into practice. This means that we have to come up with different proposals, rules, guidelines and sometimes legislation but we want to avoid to regulate the market too much and unnecessary, but we do want to keep an eye on the implementation of the existing rules. This is why the enforcement of the rules is going to be the number one issue in the future. We will check the Member States and the authorities should check the companies on how the European rules are kept and used. So, from this point of view, the White Paper is the beginning.

Railway Pro: Regional transport markets are characterised by monopole and local and national authorities invest in the modernisation of the rolling stock fleet. How does this situation influence the liberalisation policy of the sector?

Zoltán Kazatsay: The monopolistic situation should disappear. It is dangerous because it can slow down the development of the processes which are necessary if they want to be competitive or remain competitive compared to other modes of transport or other companies. Railways cannot compete with roads or, in passenger transportation, with the air sector, if the railways want to stick to monopolies. The railway must be flexible and encouraging modal shift cannot be done in a way that makes the life harder for the other modes of transport. The railway sector should develop within the technological framework and possibilities, but it should develop and there are possibilities for this not just in means of infrastructure construction, but also in modernizing the rail system by coming up with better management, introducing more sophisticated software systems or ITS systems, intelligent systems, which are cheaper than building new railway lines. A real competitor in rail transport is the high speed rail, and of course we have to be rea-listic with this: it is very costly and in some places it is hard to justify, but remains one of the future options. The most important thing is the mentality. Changing the menta-
lity from the traditional one in what concerns rail sector is not easy, but it should be done.

Railway Pro: Is high-speed achievable in the economies of the East and Central European countries in the near future?

Zoltán Kazatsay: Gradually, there is an option for most of the countries to have high speed rail lines. Of course, the best thing is to have an interconnected high speed network, which than supplies the additional capacities of the rail network elements. It is not a short term program, especially in the middle and southern part of Europe. We must be realistic, there are some high speed rail lines even in this region, but small ones and we think that the European high speed network which concentrates today Germany, France, Spain, Italy, is going to expand further and will cover other countries in this region. High speed rail is pro-bably the best performing railway system within the railway sector and it’s the high level of service, the accuracy on time work is excellent and the efficiency is also excellent. The countries should be realistic and it takes about seven to ten years to build a proper high speed rail line from the time of the decision, to the operation, and it is very expensive, so countries should be aware of their possibilities. In the White Paper, high speed rail is mentioned as an important element of the railway sector of the future.

[ by Pamela Luică ]
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