ERFA, representing new entrants in the rail market, very much welcomes the draft implementing act on access to service facilities and rail related services.
The European Commission’s draft published in October responds to the concerns raised by many small railway undertakings from both passenger and freight sectors in Europe. Ensuring a non-discriminatory, transparent and fair access to facilities is one of the prime conditions needed for developing an open rail market and to improve rail’s competitiveness.
Today the facility market is still dominated by Incumbent operators and State-owned companies, which have inherited key assets from their former monopolies. Many facilities are often managed by sister companies, being part of one and the same holding company as the incumbent railway undertakings. Consequently, there is strong evidence that discriminatory practices still exist in the facility market e.g higher charges, refusal of the access by pretending that the facility is full, intentional low quality of services, which provide a competitive advantage to their ‘own’ operator.
Therefore, ERFA is convinced that an implementing act is now needed in order to best implement EU rules on access to service facilities in all Member States. It should bring a transparent and predictable framework for all companies (i.e facility operators, RUs, IMs), and give all the necessary tools to the Regulatory Bodies in order to best ensure that the facility market is fully functioning in a non-discriminatory manner.