ERFA urges rail operators to ‘commit more’ to freight
Railway undertakings (RUs) must start prioritising projects which maintain momentum of the Rail Freight Corridors following last year’s Rotterdam agreement, says the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA). The call for more action came at their summit of RUs, infrastructure managers and stakeholders, designed to improve the competitiveness of the sector.
ERFA Board Director Irmtraut Tonndort presented the RU Dialogue Plenary Meeting in Brussels with a ‘state-of-play’ report into the implementation of the 2016 Rotterdam Declaration on rail freight corridors. The declaration emphasised the importance of establishing the European TEN-T network corridors and broadening their scope to take account of sustainability and digitalisation.
Ms Tonndort urged RUs to commit more in the implementation of priority projects in order to retain the momentum for rail freight in Europe. Only a few projects were said to be ‘progressing’, putting at risk the ability of the sector to achieve results in a short timeframe.
She highlighted the need for a more structured organisation, identifying clear responsibilities for steering and developing projects. Ms Tonndorf also announced the development of a new website, dedicated to the sector statement and designed to improve communications on progress, and facilitate the involvement of stakeholders.
The issue of rail freight noise was also debated, with European Commission representatives reporting on the first results of the ERA (European Agency for Railways) Noise Task Force, which is charged with finding cost-effective compromises to deal with rail freight noise. A ‘section approach’ (of lines) would be the preferred approach, with silent sections defined by individual member states according to certain criteria, such as density of local populations. Draft legislation on this is expected before the summer.
Germany’s VDV (the Association of German Transport Companies) which represents the country’s various rail freight bodies and stakeholders, presented its work on e-ticketing for multimodal transport. It believes this will enable better integration of transport ticketing and tariffs systems. Tony Berkeley, ERFA Board Director, said that open data on ticketing, together with transparent and fair reselling conditions would enable real competition between RUs.