Brussels, 19 March – Members of the European Parliament and rail stakeholders gathered on 17 March at the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss ways to make cross border rail more attractive. The event was sponsored by the RoCK (Regions of Connected Knowledge) project.
Andreas Warnecke, Liaison Office for public bus & rail transport in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, Aachener Verkehrsverbund, highlighted the significant economic benefits of tackling cross border obstacles also by reducing marginal social costs. In particular, partners of the RoCK project initiative focus their efforts on four main issues: rail infrastructure, tariff systems, electronic ticketing systems and rail concessions. In this respect, “RoCK partners believe that cross-border sections should be adequately addressed in future concessions and public service contracts”, he stated.
Gösta Weber, RoCK Project Director, focussed his presentation on the need to go beyond the concept of geographical national borders and increase the role of hubs near borders in order to make network interfaces more effective. Moreover, he addressed the need for higher investment and the issue of political interface between the different actors involved in the management of cross border sections, for example between Germany and the Netherlands. “There should be an obligation for transport authorities to show that they are cooperating with transport authorities in neighbouring countries”, he concluded.
Keir Fitch, Head of Unit on Research and Innovative Transport Systems, DG MOVE, drew a link between the need for more cross border rail transport and the current EU legislation, in particular the 4th Railway Package. “We want to get rid of technical barriers. Simplified authorisation of rolling stock will make cross border transport cheaper and create a market for services” he said. Moreover he mentioned the European Commission’s initiatives on integrated ticketing and infrastructure, such as the TEN-T programme, as possible ways to get more trains crossing borders. Moreover he highlighted the potential role of innovation: “The SHIFT2RAIL initiative is about investing a great deal of money in innovation. It will help find quick and cheap solutions to interoperability to attract passengers” he concluded.
Michael Cramer, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chairman of Rail Forum Europe, stressed that rail companies can be considered as the last nationalistic bodies of this century. “Member States should be more focussed on international links and properly address the issues related to bottlenecks and missing links”, he stated.
Marcel Verslype, Executive Director of the European Railway Agency, highlighted that technical problems related to authorisation are disappearing. “Technical issues are being solved. There are many more non-technical reasons for trains to stop at borders” he declared. Moreover, he referred to ERTMS as a typical example of a unified EU system that facilitates cross border transport.
Brian Simpson, Chairman of the European Parliament’s TRAN Committee and of Rail Forum Europe, highlighted that it is time to solve the long standing issue of cross border rail. He invited rail stakeholders to focus not only on passenger but also on freight when it comes to cross border services.
Rail Forum Europe will hold a cocktail event on 16 April 2014 in Strasbourg to thank the Managing Board and say goodbye to outgoing chairman Brian Simpson.
You can also download the presentations by clicking here.
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, the President of which is Mr Brian Simpson (Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism).
Notes to editors:
RoCK is a project funded through the EU’s Interreg north-west Europe programme that is working on better cross-border rail connections between the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France and the UK. The project is led by the City of Eindhoven. For more details, please go to www.rock-project.eu
INTERREG North-West Europe (NWE) is a Programme of the European Union to promote the economic, environmental, social and territorial future of the North-West Europe area.
It invests 355 million euros of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in activities based on the cooperation of partners from eight countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom