CER: Public Service Regulation: some progress

Public Service Regulation: some progress but ignoring the reality in Central and Eastern Europe

Brussels, Belgium – The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) welcomes that the Transport Council finally unblocked the text on the
‘Regulation on public service obligations for public passenger transport services
by rail and by road’. After six years of difficult negotiations, the Council finally
adopted its first reading common position which clarifies the conditions under
which public transport services may be organised in the European Union. While
the Council has improved the text by making it more workable in daily business,
CER regrets that the specific situation of rail transport in Central and Eastern
Europe has been completely disregarded. In this respect, the text even
constitutes a step backwards compared to today’s legal situation (i.e. Regulation
1191/69).

Johannes Ludewig, CER Executive Director said: “The text does not recognise
the problem of under-compensation of railways for public services. It only
addresses the problem of over-compensation. However, in Central and Eastern
Europe, most railways are not paid for services ordered by public authorities. As a
result, they are compelled to balance losses from public service operations with
revenues generated by commercial activities, thus jeopardising their financial
viability.”

The European Parliament faces now the important task of finding the right
balance in a text that is politically very sensitive and that concerns approximately
80 to 90% of the railways’ passenger business. Mr. Ludewig said: “We hope that the Parliamentarians will add the reality of the new Member states to this text,
which so far seems to be tailored to only a part of the European Union.”