Europe’s need for a better connected and more efficient railway system has led EU Transport Ministers to agree on the “market pillar” of the currently negotiated 4th EU Railway Package. The deal struck in Luxembourg sets out rules governing the rail sector in Europe and paves the way for negotiations with the European Parliament to finalise the legislation.
Reaction was swift with BUSINESSEUROPE’s Director General Markus Beyrer saying, “EUMinistershave set the right course with the market pillar, now they should swiftly arriveat their destination.
“Swift adoption of the full railway package will trigger investment in rail infrastructure, competitive prices for passenger and business clients and make rail services more efficient”.
The Brussels based Beyrer said the 4th Railway Package can contribute to a better functioning and more competitive EU Single Market.
“It aims to make it easier for new companies to enter national transport markets.”
BUSINESSEUROPE says it supports an enhanced role for the European Railway Agency concerning safety certification and vehicle authorisation for cross-border operations.
“An ambitious final agreement on the railway package will improve quality and would allow an estimated 20% cost and time reduction in approving to get trains on the tracks”, said Beyrer.
Further comment on the Council agreement came from Green party transport spokesperson Karima Delli.
The MEP said,“It was high time that EU transport ministers finally agreed their position on the 4th Railway Package after months of delay. Negotiations with the European Parliament must begin immediately, so the legislation can be finalised.”
Delli said, “We will push for greater transparency of financial flows to make sure that public money will be used to make rail transport more efficient and environmentally-friendly.
“The agreement will move us closer to an agreement on the crucial ‘technical pillar’of the package, which was agreed earlier in the year. We need to overcome the technical patchwork in the rail sector across Europe, so we can have a truly European rail network. “
The deputy added,”This implies tackling the over 11,000 European and national rules for technical security. The authorisation of new rail vehicles can take over 2 years and cost up to €6 million. The 4th Railway Package includes crucial provisions to this end, which will improve efficiency and reduce costs by 20%.”
The MEP said this would save €500 million for the rail sector over 5 years.
By Martin Banks