European Parliament makes a step forward to the use of railway infrastructure capacity in the Single European Railway Area.

European Parliament makes a step forward to the use of railway infrastructure capacity in the Single European Railway Area.

The European Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) has recently advanced its stance to increase railway capacity and boost reliability.

The committee endorsed a regulation that promotes the creation of an international, digital, and adaptable framework for the efficient management and allocation of limited railway capacity.

Despite the European Commission's draft proposal receiving a generally favorable reception, certain areas, notably around user engagement and regulatory oversight, were pinpointed for improvement. In response, the TRAN Committee has proposed several measures to address these issues.

A key initiative is the establishment of the European Railway Undertaking Platform (ERP), which aims to facilitate continuous dialogue between the European Network of Infrastructure Managers (ENIM) and railway operators, especially freight services where demand fluctuates significantly. This platform is expected to aid ENIM in devising capacity supply plans that better accommodate user needs.

Moreover, the proposal seeks to strengthen the role of the European Network of Regulatory Bodies (ENRRB), enhancing regulatory supervision over ENIM. This includes granting ENRRB the authority to evaluate, prior to their approval, European frameworks concerning capacity management, traffic management, and performance assessments.

Additionally, the committee has proposed accelerating the implementation timeline of the regulation. The original proposal slated most provisions to activate by the end of 2029, potentially diminishing its impact on the 2030 modal shift goals. The revised dates proposed by the European Parliament aim to ensure the regulation contributes more immediately to this decade's objectives.

The European Parliament also emphasized the importance of any new amendments, such as the provision for "systematic train paths" by infrastructure managers, to be developed in consultation with the ERP and under the scrutiny of ENRRB.

ERFA (European Rail Freight Association) President Dirk Stahl highlighted the critical nature of transitioning from a nationally focused, manual, and rigid capacity management system to an international, digital, and flexible one. This change is vital for facilitating the growth of rail freight, which often crosses multiple national borders.

ERFA Secretary General Conor Feighan expressed optimism regarding the unanimous support from the TRAN Committee, anticipating that the regulation will likely be adopted within the current European Parliament's term. He stressed the importance of continuing efforts in the Council to expedite the regulation's adoption, allowing the industry to benefit from these changes as soon as possible.

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