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ESC – European Shippers’ Council

Support for ambitious targets of Rail Transport White Paper

Four years after the publication of the latest Transport White Paper, the rail sector confirms its support for the ambitious environmental and modal shift targets set by the European Commission in 2011 and calls on policy makers to take further steps to reach them.

This was the main message put forward by CER and UNIFE at a Rail Forum Europe dinner held at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 11 March, in the context of the ongoing stocktaking review of the 2011 Transport White Paper that was recently launched by the European Commission.

The European Shippers’ Council (ESC) supports the White Paper, but is very critical about the feasibility of the modal shift targets. As for rail freight, the Fourth Railway Package must be implemented as soon as possible. Especially the political part is essential for more competition on rail. The absence of growth on rail is an important indication of the insufficient attractiveness for shippers. The costs must come down, and the quality of rail services should be improved. If not, the European Union is investing a lot of funds in the railway sector without achieving the goals of the White Paper.

Jocelyn Fajardo, member of the cabinet of Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, set the scene with an overview of the stocktaking review of the Transport White Paper that should be completed by early 2016 at the latest. The Commission is considering two possible options concerning the scope of the exercise: either a light review based on the political agenda of the new Commission or a full mid-term review. He mentioned a number of achievements of the rail sector in the past four years, such as the recast of the First Railway Package, progress on rail freight corridors, the new TEN-T guidelines and its related financial instrument, the Connecting Europe Facility, as well as the adoption of the Shift2Rail regulation. Nevertheless, the rail sector has still many challenges ahead, in particular the adoption and implementation of the Fourth Railway Package and further ERTMS deployment. He concluded by highlighting some of the political priorities of Commissioner Bulc: “Single market, social agenda, sustainability, smart transport and services-oriented transport will be the guiding principles of the stocktaking review of the Transport White Paper”.

Fossil fuels
Libor Lochman, Executive Director of CER, highlighted that efforts are needed in order to decarbonise transport by further reducing transport’s consumption of fossil fuels. In this respect, pricing and regulation policies should aim to balance the current uneven situation between rail and other transport modes, notably road. Moreover, he called on the European Institutions to ensure solid, sufficient, and predictable funding for rail infrastructure and stabilise the current legislative framework to boost modal shift. “The rail sector loves the 2011 Transport White Paper and looks forward to its full implementation. In order to reduce transport emissions, rail is an essential part of the solution: rail is the least CO2 intensive transport mode and has ambitious voluntary targets” he concluded.

This article was posted on March 11th, 2015 by ESC under News