IRG-RAIL AND UNIFE DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN RAIL
“A dialogue between regulatory bodies and the supply industry is vital” said Anna Walker, “we represent different areas of the rail sector, but we share common goals: innovation and growth in European rail”.
Mr Citroen welcomed the start of a dialogue between the two organisations. “UNIFE and IRG-Rail both want to see rail realise its full potential: carrying more people and freight, more quickly, more efficiently, and for longer distances.”
“Innovation and competition clearly play an important role, not least in the supply market for rail technology. We must work together to ensure that technical barriers do not act as market barriers.”
The discussion focused on the technical pillar of the Fourth Railway Package. UNIFE welcomed the Commission’s proposals, in particular an expanded role for the European Rail Agency (ERA) in the authorisation of rolling stock. “Current procedures cause delay and cost” said Mr Citroen, “EUR 1.4 billion of capital is immobilised and tied up in cumbersome and slow authorisation procedures which can last up to 2 years.”
Mrs Walker recognised this problem, but noted that some member states had raised concerns in this area. “Delivery of vehicle authorisations should be swift, transparent, and consistent in all member states. We must give guarantees that there is a level playing field across Europe.”
Mr Citroen and Mrs Walker also discussed Shift2Rail, UNIFE’s research programme to channel and coordinate public and private funding into rail
“We welcome UNIFE’s initiative” said Mrs Walker “Rail must compete with other sectors, not just for passengers and freight, but also for public and private investment. To improve, the industry should be willing to pool its expertise and resource in developing solutions that will benefit all. IRG-Rail welcomes two of the programmes in particular: efficient high-capacity infrastructure, and joined-up IT applications, are vital to growth in the rail sector. We applaud UNIFE’s efforts in these areas.”
Mrs Walker thanked Mr Citroën for meeting with IRG-Rail, and they agreed to work together in the future on areas of common interest.