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2002-05-24 DTR-001
Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions

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DTLR launches consultation on latest EC rail proposals


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Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions



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Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions

DTLR launches consultation on latest EC rail proposals
_______________________________________________________________


date
24 May 2002 00:00
source Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions
type Press release



The Department for Transport Local Government and the Regions today launched consultation on the European Commission's latest proposals for revitalising Europe's railways. Comments have been invited by 19 August. The comments received will help inform the Government's negotiating position in Brussels.

John Spellar said:

"We share the Commission's objective of improving the quality and efficiency of rail services, so that rail can play an increased role in the transport system, and help tackle road congestion and pollution. There is much that we can welcome in these new proposals.

The proposed completion of liberalisation of rail freight would provide new opportunities for UK firms in continental markets and increase competition in those countries that still restrict access, reducing costs and improving services to customers. Better integration of Europe's railways through harmonised technical rules is also something we can welcome in principle. But harmonisation can impose costs too, so we will need to be sure that the benefits of the proposed measures are clear and fully justify any costs. This consultation exercise will help us to identify where we should be most supportive, and most cautious, in the forthcoming negotiations."

The proposals cover:

- Accelerated completion of the liberalisation of the rail freight market, so that freight train operators have freedom to operate domestic or international services anywhere in the EU;
- Further measures to promote the interoperability of EU rail systems - i.e. the use of common technical specifications to promote greater competition and economies of scale in the railway supply industry and to make it easier for trains to operate across different national networks;
- A harmonised system of railway safety regulation based on national safety authorities, separate national accident investigation bodies, and common safety methods and targets;
- The creation of a European Rail Agency as a technical body staffed from the rail industry to co-ordinate work on developing proposals for harmonised technical specifications and safety rules - for formal decision by the Commission and Member States.
- A mandate for the European Community to become a party to the Convention on International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) - a long standing intergovernmental agreement between forty countries, which facilitates international freight and passenger rail traffic

The Commission's Communication also indicates that they will bring forward further measures to improve the quality of freight and passenger services over the next three years.

Notes to editors

1. These proposals were foreseen in the Commission's Transport White Paper published in September 2001. They were published by the Commission on 23 January 2002, and can be found at
http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/transport/rail/newpack/np_en.htm

2. The Department will be sending copies of the consultation document to over 100 organisations in the UK with an interest in the development of rail services. It will also be available on the DTLR website.

3. Access to the rail freight market in Great Britain has been open since 1994. To date, two EU Directives on rail interoperability have been agreed - one has been implemented in UK law, the other is due to be by March 2003. These set out the procedures and specifications to be followed when projects on the trans-European rail system are taken forward by Member States. The proposals on the structure of safety regulation are compatible with Lord Cullen's recommendations - now being taken forward - to set up a Rail Industry Safety Body and an independent Rail Accident Investigation Body.

Press Enquires: 020 7944 3066 Out of Hours: 020 7944 5925 E-mail: press@dtlr.gov.uk
Public Enquiries: 020 7944 3000
DTLR website: http://www.dtlr.gov.uk



Railhub Archive ::: 2002-05-24 DTR-001





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