EIM welcomes Council Conclusions on Multi-Annual Contracts

EIM welcomes Council Conclusions on Multi-Annual Contracts

EIM, the association of European Rail Infrastructure Managers, welcomes the conclusions adopted Friday 2008-06-13 by the Transport Council which encourage EU Member States to adopt Multi-Annual Contracts with rail infrastructure managers. EIM believes such contracts are vital for ensuring the long term stability of rail infrastructure managers, allowing efficient planning for investment, maintenance and renewal of the network, as well as driving forward improved quality of service for customers. However, EIM is disappointed by the Council’s decision not to make such contracts mandatory.

Multi Annual Contracts (MACs) are long term agreements, usually running for four to six years, setting out a framework for the relationship between the national government and rail infrastructure manager. As well as ensuring the long term financial stability of infrastructure managers, MACs can increase cost efficiency and predictability. Long term agreements can help in building a win-win situation between national governments and their infrastructure managers with benefits for national finances, as well as society as a whole, by reducing the cost of infrastructure use and by consuming fewer funds for the development of the network. By creating long term stability, Multi-Annual Contracts will allow more money to be invested in infrastructure, equipment, people and training.

EIM thus welcomes the Council conclusions adopted on 13 June, which can be seen as a positive step towards the widespread take up of MACs across Europe. In particular, EIM shares the Member States concerns “about the mismatch of finance and maintenance needs as it exists in some parts of the EU and the need to avoid increasing maintenance backlogs which may result in excessively high infrastructure charges”.

EIM is pleased that the Council recognises the need for “management independence and demand orientation of infrastructure managers to attract more users,” which, in turn, will lead to a better use of available capacity. EIM also welcomes the Council’s statements in favour of the publication of Key Performance Indicators relating to capacity, quality, efficiency and reliability of infrastructure provision. Such indicators lie at the heart of effective and transparent multi-annual contracts.

The Transport Ministers’ recommendations will enable the provision of better quality of infrastructure maintenance, and EIM hopes that they will be swiftly acted on by national authorities.

However, while recognizing that a “one size fits all” approach is not possible, given the variety of arrangements that exist throughout the EU, EIM had hoped that the Council would support measures to make Multi-Annual Contracts obligatory throughout the EU, as EIM has called for on a number of previous occasions.

Michael Robson, EIM Secretary General, said, “The upcoming recast of the First Rail Package could provide an ideal opportunity for the European Commission to frame the ground rules for an implementation of Multi-Annual Contracts in all Member States.”

Auteur: Redactie Infrasite

Bron: European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM)