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23.04.13

Railway Package fails to address rail’s ‘real problems’ – MPs

The European Commission’s 4th Railway Package focuses too much on liberalising the railways at the expense of measures to improve cross-border freight and passenger services, the Transport Committee has warned.

MPs broadly welcomed the package, but called for active negotiation to ensure joint working between Network Rail and the train operating companies is not prohibited or unduly restricted.

The report states that metro and light rail systems should not be affected by proposals to separate infrastructure and service operators, and the package should not challenge the UK’s arrangements for letting train franchises.

The committee was also concerned that responsibility for the content of public transport plans could be overtaken by the EU instead of national or local government.

Committee chair Louise Ellman MP said: “There are some real problems with cross-border rail, such as high track access charges and different rules for authorising rolling stock. These issues affect both passenger and freight services, including operations through the Channel Tunnel.

“Unfortunately, the Commission’s proposals do not address some of the main impediments to cross-border rail, particularly track access charges, and there is no sign of practical improvements in border controls.

“Proposals to encourage cross-border rail have widespread support but could be put at risk by measures to liberalise domestic rail markets that are likely to be strongly resisted elsewhere in the EU and won’t significantly affect the UK.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Image c. Marc Antoine L Frenette

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