Brussels, 30 January 2013
4th Railway Package – Statement Vice-President Siim Kallas
Europe's railways are approaching a very important junction.
We face two choices.
We have the opportunity to create a truly European railway network of tracks and routes which actually works.
And alongside that an internal market for rail with common standards and far fewer barriers to competition.
Trains would be able to run freely from Rotterdam to Genoa, from Paris to Bratislava and from Warsaw to Marseille.
After decades of stagnation in many countries, rail will be able to grow again to the benefit of citizens, businesses and the environment.
Or we can take the other track.
We can slide down the slippery slope to a Europe where railways are a luxury toy for a few rich countries and are unaffordable for most in the face of scare public money.
Rail would all but disappear from large parts of the continent.
Rail would make no effective contribution to European wealth or growth or employment.
Our motorways would be clogged up completely with even more, bigger and longer trucks.
Our vision of moving the majority of long distance freight and medium distance passenger traffic from road to rail would have disappeared for ever.
The trends in rail are already very worrying.
These are the choices we face.
I believe strongly in a European future for rail.
So what is our response?
We need a European approach to make sure trains can easily cross the continent. We need rapid action on two fronts.
We need to create joined up infrastructure - better linkages between national networks to create a truly European system.
And we need a real internal market for rail services.
Between them, they will bring greater efficiency and a greater degree of innovation.
To achieve that, we propose action in three areas:
Standards and approvals that work. To save time and costs, trains and rolling stock should be built to a single standard and certified once to run everywhere in Europe. For rail companies there should be a single safety certificate allowing them to operate Europe-wide.
A structure that delivers – to provide fair access to the tracks, and pan-European routes that work, the two functions of managing the tracks and running the trains should be kept separate.
Open markets that provide better quality and more choice. To encourage innovation and efficiency, domestic passenger railways should be opened up to new entrants and services.