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ERFA sets out its stall

The European Rail Freight Assocation has published its latest policy wish list with regard to the 4th Railway Package
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ERFA is heavily orientated to private sector railfreight interests and "newcomers"; the big national "legacy" companies such as DB Schenker, SNCF Fret and FS Merci are not members and this bias is reflected in its calls for open access, "genuinely level playing fields," etc. However, as a European body, its language tends to be more nuanced and "diplomatic" than that of some of its members.

ERFA has siezed on what it takes to be the readiness of Italy (the current holder of the "revolving" EU Council of Ministers Presidency) to take seriously the "market pillar" of the 4th Railway Pacakge.

"EFRA represents new entrants on the rail market ie all those operators who want open access and fair market conditions." On the governance level, for example, it wants to ensure that [national] infrastructure managers cooperate more, and that cooperation agreements are equally acessible to all railway undertakings. The agreements must be transparent and be subject to strong regulatory oversight to ensure they do not distort the market.

It also wants to ensure full financial transparency, specifically with regard to financial flows between infrastructure managers and rail undertakings that are part of the same [state] holding.

Another complaint is that hindering access to rolling stock is a serious barrier to market entry. ERFA wants to ensure that all rail undertakings have access to redundant state-owned rolling stock. This would not only safeguard equal market access, but would help ensure that state investments are amortised by extending the useful working life of the equipment.

  • Irmtraut Tonndorf, Hupac's experienced Communications Director, has been elected President of ERFA. The post had been vacant since François Coart, Strategy Director of GETSA's affiliate Europorte, resigned due to policy disagreements with other Board members.
  • Network Rail, the rail track authority in Great Britain (ex-Railtrack), has finally been reclassified as a public sector body. Commenting, Maggie Simpson, Executive Director of the British Rail Freight Group (an ERFA member), said: "We look forward to working with Network Rail and with Government to ensure that these changes support private sector rail freight operators, customers and suppliers as they seek to grow their businesses and increase the amount of goods moved by rail." According to the RFG, in the past 20 years over £2B has been invested by the industry, supporting growth of around 70%. "Today, rail freight generates over £1.5B annually in economic benefits for the UK, and keeps some 7.6M lorry trips off the nation’s roads," said the RFG.
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