EU member states implement track access charges measures
Several European countries have already reduced or waived track access charges (TACs) for rail freight undertakings. For instance, Germany and the Netherlands have cut them in half, while Austria and Luxemburg have waived them completely. Moreover, France which had waived TACs for 2020, will continue implementing the measures for the first six months of 2021 and is also relinquishing cancellation fees. Switzerland is moving on the same wavelength with regards to cancellation fees while the Swiss government announced its commitment to support the country’s rail sector further, with compensations for losses.
Rail Freight Forward (RFF) coalition welcomed the relief initiatives with warmth and urged the rest of Member States to follow the same example. By doing so, EU countries are expected to secure the survival of rail transport, benefit the broader European economy and make sure that rail remains competitive and environmentally friendly.
Apart from the severe impact that the Covid-19 pandemic brought to rail undertakings, such measurements are also crucial because they will boost the rail sector which has “remained stagnant for the last fifteen years”, underlined RFF. Since rail transportation is the driving factor in achieving European green goals and the shift from road to rail, neglecting its patronage could prove detrimental.
Additionally, taking support measures such as the ones mentioned above is not a complicated process. In contrast, reducing TACs can be unbureaucratic and quick, and thus it relies on the willingness of states to improve the situation.
A few days ago the European Commission announced the approval of TACs reducing and waiving. Moreover, it was made clear that supportive schemes would be applied retrospectively from the beginning of the pandemic until December 2020.
Nevertheless, RFF members called the Commission and the rest of Member States to extend measures beyond the last month of 2020. Following the French example, countries should continue relieving their rail sectors as much as possible, until stability in operations and economic conditions returns to normal.