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SPEECH/10/448

Siim Kallas

Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for transport

Towards better rail services in Europe

Statement at midday press briefing: Commission sets out measures to improve the functioning of the rail market

Brussels, 17 September 2010

Europe is at the forefront of railway technology and modern rail networks. But, and it is a big but, Europe needs and deserves better rail services. We need to deliver better quality, better reliability, more choice and more innovation to passengers and freight users.

That is what this package is designed to do. We are tackling the issue on three levels:

  • ensuring fair competition in the opened markets;

  • strengthening the regulators;

  • stimulating public and private investments.

Let us take those in turn.

1. First, for transparent and open competition, rail operators need good access to the tracks

But that's not enough on its own. They also need access to all the facilities and vital support services essential run those trains. That means, for example, being able to use the terminals, having access to maintenance facilities and being able to sell tickets for your trains.

This proposal makes the necessary changes to the rules and regulations to bring all this about.

2. My second point concerns regulators

Those of you with young children may be familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine whose life is governed by the "Fat Controller." We need to ensure that that the regulators, who sit even higher in the chain than the fat controller, ensure fairness in terms of operating procedures, timetabling, and all matters concerning safety.

This means extending their powers and requiring their full independence.

3. And thirdly, we need to ensure that our rail sector is attractive for investment

That means more business-like medium- and long-term development planning.

My aim in all of this is more competition in passenger and freight services. That will be good for passengers, good for freight users, good for high-quality rail equipment producers and good for the environment. Today's announcement is an important step in this direction. But it is only one step. It's not the whole story.

Looking ahead we want to open up the passenger market further. I am pleased to announce that today we are publishing a study which underlines the advantages of such a move. I intend to move forwards as quickly as possible with legislative proposals to open up the market for domestic passengers.

And finally, if operators are to be able to run their trains and their rolling stock freely across borders we need to cut the excessive red tape which is required to authorise the circulation of rolling stock in different countries. We need to move towards one set of European standards for one European rail market.

I am happy to take your questions.


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