Mobility and Transport
For the first time, multiple advisory councils (Belgium, FRDO-CFDD, Germany ,SRU and RNE, Luxembourg, CSDD and the Netherlands, Rli) worked together on one overarching project: international rail services. The five councils jointly worked on the issue since September 2019 and released their letter on July 1st 2020.
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Trains have the potential to make an increasingly important contribution to safe, energy-efficient and low carbon emission transport. In this way, international passenger rail transport can play a crucial part in the realisation of the goals set for the European Green Deal. How do we shape international coordination to ensure Europe has a well-functioning network of frequent and fast international connections?
To find an answer, the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) has published an advisory report on international rail: “Changing Tracks: Towards better international passenger transport by train” (which will be available in English in September). An important part of this advisory report is a letter addressed to the European Commission. This letter was co-signed by advisory bodies from Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, and endorsed by still more. To highlight the recommendations – focussing on the proposed corridor approach – and discuss these findings in a European context, the Rli is hosting an online conference.
The following speakers (amongst others) are contributing by presenting their visions on international rail passenger transport and the corridor approach, and are taking part in an interactive panel discussion:
Chair of the council committee (Rli)
Member of the council committee (Rli)
Member of Cabinet Frans Timmermans
Executive Director of the European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM)
Executive Director of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER)
Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA)
Director Land Transport of the European Commission (DG-MOVE)
The conference promises to be informative, but also inspirational: we aim to share a vision on international rail as a way to a greener future for Europe and leave participants with inspiration and enthusiasm to put the recommendations in to practice. Click here to register
A European consortium of governmental advisory councils published a letter addressing European Commissioner Adina Vălean, calling upon here to boost international passenger rail.
Lack of international cooperation due to focus on domestic needs
Up until now, the international rail network consists primarily of interlinked national systems which are optimised to meet domestic needs. This pushes the needs of the international traveller to the background. The councils conclude that the lack of international cooperation persists because public authorities, rail carriers and infrastructure managers are primarily held to account for their performance in providing domestic services and to a lesser degree for international services.
Travel info, ticketing and passenger rights
The quality of international travel information and ticketing is below par. Travelers want a single service point and a single ticket for their international train journey. In a short space of time, much can be achieved by providing adequate travel information, simplifying ticketing, and improving passenger rights. To that end, there is urgent need for better EU regulation on travel information and ticketing and the ongoing revision of the EU Regulation on passengers’ rights presents an opportunity to improve just that.
Need for a corridor authority
The councils see a need for an improved international coordination on the main rail links between the major urban centres in Europe. The councils are in favour of an EU regulation establishing an European governance structure for the rail network, as better coordination on this level is essential for improving international rail connectivity. This pan-European initiative could start with international coordination along separate core corridors for passenger transport within Europe: Rail Passenger Corridors. Ultimately, a European corridor authority should be able to supervise and monitor international rail traffic. This authority should also be able to coordinate between public and private rail parties concerned, to accommodate with international rail services in the interests of international rail
Call for a major boost
The councils call upon the European Commission to give priority to further improvement of international passenger transport by rail. So far the European approach has leaned heavily on stimulating market mechanisms, harmonising regulations and technical standardisation. This has not yet brought about the development of a thriving international rail market. The major boost that is needed implies an increase in political attention, speeding up policy effort and stimulating all parties concerned to improve international passenger rail even further. Better coordination across the European rail network should provide easy accessibility to excellent railservices for international travellers and bring about a huge improvement. However improvements to the speed and connectedness of the network itself are also fundamental.
IMPROVING INTERNATIONAL PASSENGER RAIL
THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED DUE TO CORONA RESTRICTIONS
Subsequent to the expert meeting in January 2020, the advisory bodies from Belgium (FRDO-CFDD), the Netherlands (Rli) and Luxembourg (CSDD) will organize an expert meeting to present and discuss the insights gained from their work so far. This exchange will help to enrich and focus the Council’s advice and determine the most effective target audience and form of recommendations.
The advisory bodies aim to meet representatives from rail infra, train operating companies, service providers, government authorities and representatives of EU organisations and institutions who are involved in improving international passenger rail transport.
The expert meeting will take place in Brussels on April 15th in the afternoon. The language of the meeting will be English. Simultaneous interpretation in French will be provided. If you are interested to joy the meeting, please contact Tim Zwanikken (project leader, firstname.lastname@example.org, 00 31 (0)6 5287 4404).
Better international accessibility by rail will contribute to economic competitiveness, international tourism and is increasingly important as a safe, energy-efficient and low carbon emission means of transport.
In the light of climate change and the political wish to reduce short-distance flights (< 750-800 km), we see a new interest in international rail passengers transport. There are, however, multiple physical, technical and institutional obstacles to be tackled before Europe has a well-functioning network of frequent and fast international connections.
In this context, the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) – in cooperation with fellow advisory bodies from Belgium (FRDO-CFDD) and Luxembourg (CSDD) – is preparing an advice on international passenger rail transport. To this end, a stakeholder meeting was organized in The Hague (the Netherlands) on January the 22nd.
The sessions were about identifying and prioritizing obstacles and possible solutions .