Open Letter to Council and European Parliament at the start of informal trilogues on 4th Railway Package, political pillar


Customers and users of the railways, together with environmental campaigners, unite in urging for ambitious change to rail in Europe. We, the undersigned, urge a strong rethink of attempts to block much-needed reform.

Rail must be restructured to facilitate investment and growth, to the wider benefit of cus-tomers, society and the environment.

The status quo cannot continue. A sector which deters the influx of new blood, and the inno-vation and drive they bring, is doomed to stagnation and failure.

With the road freight sector ploughing ahead with innovations such as automatic driving and truck platooning and many Member States liberalising their long-distance bus markets for the passenger sector, rail needs to be able to keep up with the competition and innovation offered by the other transportation modes.

With limited expectations that Member States alone can (or are willing to) fund rail to the extent needed to equip it with the means to effectively counter the stiff competition it al-ready faces from road and aviation, or that the model of national monopolies can alone in-centivise the necessary innovative and quality services, we the undersigned associations urge the European Parliament and the Council to support:

A growth and customer -orientated management of the rail infrastructure

Users and customers of the railways need an infrastructure manager that can deliver strong performance on the rail network. All functions linked to the development, maintenance and operations of the rail infrastructure should be firmly under the responsibility of a strong and independent infrastructure manager, whose interest it is to promote efficient and growth-orientated rail services. All functions of infrastructure management, be it maintenance or -traffic management are discrimination-sensitive and should be dealt with independently from any railway undertaking.

Full Financial Transparency and sustainability of the rail system

The rail sector cannot grow without investment; investment that is not achieved only with public money, but also via private initiatives. Member States have a responsibility to ensure that, where public money is unable to meet the financing needs of the rail sector, the right framework conditions are put in place to attract private investment.

Public funds available for the rail sector should be used to stimulate investment, not to con-strain growth in the sector. Firstly, that means ensuring that existing public money for in-vestment in the infrastructure and in public service obligations (where commercial services are not viable) is used only for these purposes, ending the misuse of public money. Secondly, it means ending cross-subsidisation in the use of public funds and other sources of revenue raised by the infrastructure manager, which allows unfair subsidy of the incumbent operator at the expense of the competitiveness of the sector. We urge the most stringent limits on the financial flows within holding structures and strongly support additional regulatory body su-pervision of the financial flows.

More cooperation and coordination in the rail sector

We strongly support the position of the European Parliament in establishing Coordination Committees, bringing together all the users, including the customers and local authorities to work together with the infrastructure manager and all railway undertakings in improving the performance and customer-orientation of the rail network. The Coordination Committee is a chance to establish a platform for all users to advise the infrastructure manager on issues such as intermodality and the needs of users related to maintenance and development of infrastructure capacity. We also strongly advocate the European Parliament amendment enabling issues faced by the users of the rail freight and passenger transport services, in-cluding the quality of the service provided, to be discussed at the coordination committees. We stress that today’s rail sector has moved beyond the interests of an incumbent providing a monopoly service , and is reliant on cooperation and coordination between the relevant actors in order to increase investment, efficiency, performance and growth.