Access to the rail network in some European countries: Access to services facilities and general access conditions

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Bertil Hylen

In February 2001 the Swedish National Rail Administration (Banverket) commissioned the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) to carry out a study of railway access conditions in a few countries. The study should deal with access conditions in general with special focus on responsibilities, financing, regulation and pricing of the so-called services facilities mentioned in the European Union (EU) Directive 2001/14, Annex II, 2. The purpose of the study was to highlight these matters as input in the ongoing work of implementing

the new EU Directives. In the railway field the EU aims at making access for international (freight) traffic easier in various ways. Standardisation, co-ordination, simplification etc. are some important key words. The EU member states have not only different safety regulations, signalling, ATP, electrical traction systems ? but they also have an astonishing range of organisational peculiarities topped up by different access

regimes and ?charges. Finally the regimes for the services facilities (terminals etc.) mentioned in the EU Directive?s Annex vary a lot. It is therefore very difficult for a potential international operator to get a clear picture of the whole chain of events from loading in one country to unloading in another, especially if he wants to operate the service with his own traction and staff all the way. Denmark has a generally liberal attitude towards new entrants. All licensed operators may run train services on the Danish Railway Agency?s infrastructure. Their web-site gives a very good step-by-step description of the Danish approval process. The information is, however, only available in Danish. The liberal attitude towards new entrants is fairly recent and has not yet led to any major changes on the operator scene. Germany differs from most other Member States in the way that apart from

Deutsche Bahn, DB, there are more than 150 non-federal railways. About 50 of these operate passenger services. There are reciprocal rights to use each others infrastructure demanded by federal legislation and fairly elaborate systems of access charges for running lines and some services facilities. The terms of use for other facilities must be agreed between the parties concerned. A potential operator may have to deal with both federal and regional authorities to get all the necessary permits. The Netherlands resembles Denmark but there is already a handful of new operators. These new companies either operate regional passenger services or freight trains to the big Dutch ports. In Great Britain the railway sector is privatised ? although with state support. Infrastructure and operations are in the hands of private companies, often listed on the stock exchange. The infrastructure manager Railtrack has a wider brief than its counterparts in other EU Member States. Railtrack owns land, tracks, traffic control facilities, rolling stock maintenance facilities, stations and some freight terminals. These facilities are let to the operators on commercial terms agreed between Railtrack and operators or other parties concerned. As a rule the Office of the Rail Regulator must approve all agreements. Railtrack is also responsible for timetable construction, train path allocation, traffic control and the public passenger traffic timetable.

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