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  • Rail reforms amended

    MEPs this week voted to approve rail reforms that would harmonise technical specifications and create a single EU-wide authorisation procedure for rail stock. However, the European Parliament diluted the Commission’s proposal to more clearly separate companies that run rail infrastructure from those that provide freight and passenger services, reversing a previous position by its transport committee.

    Transport commissioner Siim Kallas expressed disappointment at the result. He also criticised the Parliament’s postponement of the competitive tendering procedures for public service contracts to 2023 and making them subject to exceptions.
    MEPs set out rules to protect workers, so that operators will have to adhere to the local social standards. They also gave greater power to the European Railway Agency on issuing safety certificates and vehicle authorisations in the EU, which could help bring down administrative costs and make rail more environmentally friendly. The package will now be submitted to the Council to decide its position.
    Meanwhile, T&E Austrian member VCÖ has published a study highlighting the need to ensure the quality of rail and other public transport in order to satisfy growing demand. The report found 58 per cent of Austrians over 15 years old use public transport, almost half of them frequently. VCÖ says improvements can be funded from fuel tax and expanding truck charging to more roads.