CER welcomes Third Railway Package compromise

Third Railway Package compromise: Significant progress in creating an integrated European railway area

Brussels, Belgium – The agreement on the Third Railway Package between European Parliament and the Council is an important step towards an integrated European railway area. The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) welcomes that the difficult negotiations between the EU institutions have been successfully completed.

The breakthrough in the negotiations paves the way for a European train drivers’ licence, a date for the opening of the international passenger transport markets and European standards for passenger rights.

The Directive on the certification of train crews will significantly facilitate cross-border services in the liberalised rail freight market. It formalises the agreement between CER and the social partners on a European train drivers’ licence into binding European law. CER welcomes the fact that according to this week’s agreement, a European certification of staff other than drivers will be examined separately by the European Railway Agency (ERA), in order to ensure that no superfluous measures are put in place.

For passenger transport, international services will be open to competition in three years from now. The EU institutions have taken into account specific situation of railway companies in Central and Eastern Europe who are not yet prepared for competition for national services. CER welcomes that the opening of national markets will be carefully assessed separately in the future.

On passengers’ rights, the final compromise manages to reconcile the objective of formalised rights for passengers across the EU and the reality of extremely heterogeneous conditions of railway companies in various Member States. Already in 2002, CER members signed the CER/UIC/CIT Charter on Rail Passenger Services, and they are constantly improving their customer service. The flexibility in the Regulation as foreseen in this week’s agreement, acknowledges the railways’ voluntary efforts.

Johannes Ludewig, Executive Director of CER said: “The compromise creates legal conditions for further integration of the European railway area, while at the same time taking into account that railways e.g. in Romania or Bulgaria operate under completely different conditions than companies in the UK or in Germany.”

“We congratulate the German EU Presidency for its achievements in the rail transport sector,” Mr Ludewig said. “With the compromise on the Third Railway Package, and the recent result on the Public Service Regulation, the German Presidency succeeded in concluding extremely difficult long-term dossiers. Furthermore, in the last months the railways’ concern on rolling stock cross-acceptance was vigorously taken up.”

The German Presidency has pressed ahead with the facilitation of acceptance of locomotives and trains in more than one Member State. CER hopes that a agreement on the necessary modifications on the Safety and Interoperability Directives and the ERA Regulation can be reached within the next weeks.

Additional background information (provided by Infrasite’s Editorial Staff)
Compromise on the 3rd Railway Package (2007-06-21)