Fourth Railway Package: CER calls for a two-track approach

Fourth Railway Package: CER calls for a two-track approach

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) takes note of the European Commission’s proposals for a Fourth Railway Package, and calls for a two-track approach, favouring the Technical Pillar of the Package and the introduction of commercial competition over the highly controversial proposals on governance and on public service obligations.

CER is pleased to find vitally-needed proposals for more efficiency in the safety certification of railway undertakings and in the authorisation of railway vehicles, based on a strengthened role for the European Rail Agency (ERA). Reducing the time-to-market for undertakings and their vehicles will boost market entry and innovation in the railway sector.

CER warmly welcomes the Commission’s proposal for opening domestic rail markets to commercial competition (open access), subject to safeguarding the economic equilibrium of public service obligations. However CER cannot support the Commission’s attempt to impose open tendering as the only mechanism for organising public service obligations. CER also doubts the applicability of the proposed thresholds for the size and scope of PSO contracts. CER considers that the competent authorities in the Member States are the best placed to determine the size, scope, and award mechanism for public service contracts.

CER cannot support the disproportionate set of proposed measures regarding separation between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings. The existing legislation already contains substantial safeguards against distortions to competition. Also, available economic assessments from sources independent from the Commission demonstrate that no specific structural model is superior to any other. Thus, although CER appreciates the fact that the Commission has stepped back from imposing vertical separation as the only structural model for rail undertakings, it is hard to understand why the Commission continues attempting to narrow down the options available to Member States in such a dramatic manner.

CER Executive Director Libor Lochman said: “The so-called technical pillar of the Fourth Railway Package, in conjunction with generalised open access rights, will mark an important step forward for the Single European Railway Area. CER looks forward to constructive exchanges with policy-makers in order to ensure progress on these vital issues. On the other hand, CER urges policy-makers to defend the principle of subsidiarity with respect to Public Service Obligations and governance matters.”