Karima Delli to EU: ‘Stop the blah blah, we want results’
Karima Delli, Chairwoman of the ‘Transport’ committee of the European Parliament, presented a new joint declaration from the rail freight industry urging the EU to accelerate the modal shift to rail. Delli highlighted that if large investments towards the modal shift are not made right away, it’ll become increasingly expensive.
The declaration was presented at a press conference held by Delli with CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola and Conor Feighan, Secretary General of the European Rail Freight Association. Moreover, Josef Doppelbauer, Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways, joined the trio online. The press conference and the document address the lack of growth of the modal share of rail in the past few years in the Union and provide demands for the institutions.
The document urges European institutions to develop support schemes for rail freight on an EU scale, especially for the implementation of technologies such as DAC and ERTMS. Feighan, for example, claimed that the current strategy for the deployment of ERTMS is not working, while Mazzola stressed that the DAC equipping process should take place in the next seven or eight years.
Alberto Mazzola: ‘Trains don’t fly’
At the press conference, Mazzola claimed that “trains don’t fly”, underlining the importance of investments in the infrastructure to increase rail freight capacity. Moreover, he pointed out that national barriers are still a significant obstacle in the development of a European rail freight context. These thoughts were shared by Doppelbauer, who added that the revision of the TEN-T regulation should provide infrastructure parameters on an EU level.
Another aspect on which Mazzola focused was the need for longer trains rather than longer tracks. His views are reflected in the joint declaration as well: “the revision of the TEN-T regulation must introduce standards which meet the needs of rail freight”, including 740-meter trains. The document also states that rail and road should remain cross-compatible and their sizes and weights should be regulated to optimise multimodality.
Doppelbauer and Mazzola were also quite vocal about the issue of energy and electricity. “We need an enormous investment in the supply and distribution of electricity”, Doppelbauer said at the press conference. Mazzola added that the European Council should promote more synergy between rail and ports.
The joint declaration
The declaration was signed by 21 people representing rail freight associations and companies. The document can be considered a sequel to another joint declaration presented by Delli in May 2020. “Whilst we called for a significant increase of the rail freight modal share in May 2020, this modal share is stagnating”, the new document stated. Investments in the sector, the document said, should come from EU funds such as RePowerEU, Connecting Europe Facility, and the Cohesion Funds.
The parties are also asking to reactivate and extend until the end of 2024 the track access charges regulation introduced during the COVID-19 outbreak and expired last December. In addition, the declaration included a pledge for EU member states to act on track access charges. The ideal plan in the declaration is to “make them lower for rail freight operators while compensating infrastructure managers for the loss of revenue”.
The next step is the publication of the Greening Transport Package, set for 21 June. The package proposes new steps to make road and rail freight transport more environmentally friendly, according to the EC. At the press conference, both Delli and Feighan said to have high expectations and lots of ambitions for the Greening Transport Package, with Delli concluding “stop the blah blah, we want results”.
Yes, indeed, but first a sustainable, a high quality, a timely railway infrastructure!
Not sustaining todays traffic and speed and short of redundancy and of resiliency…, regrettably now standard, TEN-T is “cementing”.
(“Optimal maintenance”, mantra, is sub optimal!)
All other, sustainable, serious public affairs, duly operate against safety factors…
(“Squats/studs”, cracks – broken rails…, is most frequent single cause of derailments – among other – all, now infrastructure related…)