News Release – MEPs discuss pros and cons of rolling stock maintenance market opening

Brussels, 2 April 2012 – MEPs and stakeholders gathered on 28 March 2012 at the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss the topic: What are the right conditions for efficient rolling stock maintenance in open markets?

Speakers from the European Commission, SNCF (French Railways) and EuroMaint (leading independent private maintenance company in Europe) addressed the issues of operators’ access to rolling stock maintenance services and competition between maintenance providers in an open way, presenting their own perspectives on the issue. In a context where provisions about maintenance in the recast of the 1st railway package were softened by the Council, a lot still needs to be done to open the market, whilst keeping high standards in safety and not jeopardising employment.

Patrizio Grillo, Deputy Head of the Single European Rail Area Unit, DG MOVE, European Commission, underlined the pivotal role of maintenance in ensuring that railway vehicles deliver a safe performance. EU law brought clarification as regards who is responsible for maintenance, by creating the concept of ‘entity in charge of maintenance’. He argued that “maintenance cannot become a barrier to market access for new entrants”. The recast of the first railway package, by proposing new rules to ensure non-discriminatory access to maintenance facilities, clearer charging principles and separation requirements of maintenance activities for dominant operators, provides solutions to improve market access. Mr Grillo added that “it is regrettable that the Council and the Parliament watered down the Commission’s proposal”, keeping heavy maintenance services in workshops dedicated to specific rolling stock out of the list of services that must be granted in a non-discriminatory manner and substituting the obligation of legal separation of incumbents’ maintenance divisions by an account separation only. He also stated that “the regulatory framework needs to give the possibility to outsource maintenance”.

Jacques Damas, Executive Manager for Railway Service Safety and Quality, Member of the Executive Board, SNCF, explained that his company does not believe there will be a compulsory segmentation of the rail system into small market units (including maintenance). He acknowledged that other models than in-house maintenance should exist, such as full service offer by suppliers in the framework of rolling stock contracts. He described how safety and productivity of both high value maintenance equipment and fleet could be jeopardised in case of competition within the workshops. He therefore ruled the latter out and argued that incumbents must not be forced to provide access to heavy maintenance in their workshops. He added that safety must be the key concern in maintenance, stating that “above all, we need a system that promotes innovation and performance while guaranteeing maximal safety”. He underlined the good record of SNCF in providing maintenance services on a commercial basis to new entrants.

Ole Kjörrefjord, Senior Advisor to the CEO of EuroMaint Rail, advocated that maintenance outsourcing is the best solution. He presented the success of his company that was the former maintenance subsidiary of the Swedish Railways and has now become a leader. He presented the Swedish model, where all functions of the rail system were split into different companies with a high level of specialisation, innovation and professionalism. He stated that “outsourcing maintenance in Sweden brought huge gains in productivity and costs, whilst safety increased”. EuroMaint managed to be successful by securing high availability and reliability of its customers’ rolling stock. He explained that the key challenges for his company are to secure profitability with major customers, a dominant depot supplier and OEMs as competitors. He explained that “liberalisation of maintenance starts with exposing operators to competition” who are then motivated to seek the best maintenance solution. He recommended that as heavy maintenance becomes increasingly integrated into light maintenance (to avoid trains in depots during peak hours), legislation should not be based on these current definitions. He also suggested that regulation should help create a real-estate market for maintenance depots, so that more players can offer depot capacity to maintainers.

Participants then debated about the pros and cons of the different maintenance models. Jörg Nikutta, Head of maintenance and train preparation, DB Fernverkehr, affirmed that maintenance services at Deutsche Bahn are organised in a commercial way and show the same gains in efficiency as outsourced maintenance. He asked whether in Mr Kjörrefjord's view efficiency was rather due to outsourcing or professional management. Ole Kjörrefjord replied that “increased efficiency is due to the fact that maintenance is not State-run and that competition puts a lot of pressure on maintainers who need to improve their working methods”. Ines Ayala-Sender, Member of the EP’s Transport Committee and Rail Forum Europe Board Member, wondered about the social impact of maintenance outsourcing, arguing that productivity increase seems to correlate with massive lay-offs in Sweden. Alberto Mazzola, Director of International Affairs, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, commented that operators should be given the opportunity to choose between in-house maintenance and outsourcing, but that it would be negative for business, quality and safety reasons to introduce compulsory separation of maintenance activities from operations. He added that incumbents’ maintenance activities are going towards more specialisation. Gesine Meissner, Member of the EP’s Transport Committee and Rail Forum Europe Vice-President, stated that she is in favour of more competition and open markets, but that safety must be kept at the highest level. Philippe Citroën, Director General, UNIFE, suggested that maintenance markets must be more open to suppliers (who are already very successful in Sweden or the UK) and that new entrants must be granted access to existing workshops. He called for the 4th railway package to take up the issue of maintenance.

Brian Simpson, Chairman of the EP’s Transport Committee and Rail Forum Europe President, concluded that the debate is obviously not closed and that the Transport Committee will pay particular attention to how maintenance is addressed in the current 1st railway package recast and forthcoming 4th railway package.


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To download the press release in pdf, please click here.

N.B.: The presentations given by Patrizio Grillo, Jacques Damas and Ole Kjörrefjord will be made available soon on Rail Forum Europe’s website:


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Jérémie Pélerin

Managing Board

Brian Simpson MEP (President), Gesine Meissner MEP (Vice-President), Michael Cramer MEP (Vice-President), Ines Ayala-Sender MEP, Georges Bach MEP, Jan Březina MEP, Antonio Cancian MEP, Philippe De Backer MEP, Saïd El Khadraoui MEP, Ismail Ertug MEP, Malcolm Harbour MEP, Edit Herczog MEP, Danuta Hübner MEP, Jo Leinen MEP, Dominique Riquet MEP, Andreas Schwab MEP, Debora Serracchiani MEP, Evžen Tošenovský MEP

About Rail Forum Europe

Founded by Members of the European Parliament from across the parliamentary committees, Rail Forum Europe is an international non-profit making association that aims at bringing together EU decision-makers and the rail sector to achieve a better understanding of rail-related issues. Rail Forum Europe is governed solely by a Managing Board of MEPs

Rail Forum Europe. The MEPs’ platform dedicated to rail transport.

Categories Latest News | Tags: | Posted on April 2, 2012

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