Many rail freight services cross the borders of countries where different languages are spoken. At the moment European legislation states that locomotive drivers must be B1 level competency in every country in which they drive a train.
This means that rail freight operators must invest in expensive training and that they must carefully roster their train drivers to only drive on certain routes. In addition, when lines are closed for planned engineering works or during an unforeseen event and there is a need to divert a train, the absence of a driver with suitable language skills can result in the cancellation of the train. This issue was highlighted in a dramatic way following the Rastatt tunnel collapse incident of 2017.
Reason why ERFA urges the European Commission to adopt a simple and pragmatic approach in the implementation of the proposal of amending Annex VI of the Train Driver Directive to allow pilots of changes to language requirements for cross border traffic.
The ERFA long term aim is to eradicate the need for B1 training for drivers and improve the flexibility, reliability and efficiency of the offering to customers identifing English as a common language, across all rail networks, on a similar basis to airlines.