Competitive Networks for Freight

A 2010 regulation seeks to create a Competitive European Rail Network for Freight.  It established rules for the creation and organisation of international rail corridors for competitive rail freight.  For each corridor, States must establish an executive board, made up of representatives of the states’ authorities concerned.  For each freight corridor, the infrastructure managers must establish a management board, made up of representatives of the infrastructure managers.

The management board shall draw up an implementation plan which includes an investment plan, measures foreseen to implement the corridor and the main elements of a market study.  They also set up an advisory group composed of managers and owners of the terminals of the freight corridor and other advisory groups composed of railway undertakings interested in the use of the freight corridor.

The management board shall jointly define and arrange international prearranged train paths for freight trains to offer journey times corresponding to the needs of the freight operators.

European Railways Agency

A 2004 Directive establishes the European Railways Agency.  The main purposes of the agency are to

  • increase the safety of the European railway system,
  • improve its interoperability;
  • contribute towards establishing a European certification system for vehicle maintenance;
  • contribute towards setting up a uniform training and recognition system for train drivers.

The Agency

  • prepares and proposes common safety methods and indicators and annually verifies that the security objects are being met by the Member States;
  • draw on the support of groups of experts in the sector placed under its responsibility;
  • consults social partners and organisations representing rail freight customers and passengers at European level;
  • ensure safety performance is continuously monitored;
  • produces a public report every two years;
  • keeps a database on railway safety;
  • ensures the networking and cooperation between national rail safety and investigation authorities.

The Agency is responsible for formulating recommendations in regard to certification of entities responsible for maintaining carriages and rail vehicles.  It is responsible for producing a report on the implementation of the certification system.

The Agency has the mission of contributing towards harmonising of vocational skills of train drivers, under the framework Directive relating to certification of train drivers in the EU.  The Agency must cooperate with the competent authorities to ensure the interoperability of the licence registers and the certificates given to drivers, to assess the development of their certification and to produce a report on the improvements which could be made.

Train Drivers I

A 2007 Directive provides for harmonised, train driver certification within the EU.  Metro, trams and light rail systems; functioning separate systems from private owned railway infrastructure may be excepted.

All train drivers must have the necessary fitness and qualifications to drive.  They must also hold a licence attesting meeting of requirements of medical, psychological fitness, basic education and general professional skills.

They must hold a harmonised certificate as evidence that they have received training under the railways undertaking safety management system.  It should state the specific requirements of the authorised service for each driver and its validity will be restricted accordingly.

Drivers holding the licence and harmonised complementary certificate can drive trains provided that the railway undertaking or the infrastructure manager in charge holds a safety certificate.

There are requirements in terms of fitness, training, medical requirements, psychological factors, professional and if applicable linguistic abilities.  The requisite training and test must be completed.  the competent authority may issue a licence not later than one month after receiving all the necessary documents.  A licence is valid for 10 years.

Holders must agree to undertake periodic checks such as medical examinations and tests of ability.

Train Drivers II

The competent authority in each State issues the licence after establishing that the necessary requirements have been fulfilled.   It must issue the licences in a transparent and non-discriminatory fashion.  It must

  • ensure periodic examinations and checks;
  • ensure publication and updating of a register of accredited or recognised persons and bodies;
  • keep and update a register of licences which have issued modified, suspended, cancelled, lost etc.
  • supervise the process of certifying drivers.

Undertakings are required to keep a register of all harmonised complementary certificates issued, modified, cancelled, declared lost or destroyed, etc.  They are obliged to set up a system of monitoring their drivers and take immediate action if the driver’s fitness is called into question.

The Directive is fully phased in over 10 years ending in 29 October 2018.

Working Hours

A 2005 Council Directive deals with the working conditions of mobile workers engaged in interoperable cross-border services cross-border services in the railway sector.  The Agreement grants workers a daily rest period of 12 consecutive hours and breaks of between 30 and 45 minutes.  It limits the daily driving time to 9 hours a day shift and 8 hours on night shift.

Under exceptional circumstances, they can shorten the daily rest periods to 9 hours instead of 11 as provided in the Working Hours Directive.  States may keep or introduce more favourable provisions than provided in the Directive.

State Aid to Railways and Licensing

Guidelines lay down the condition under which States may give aid to railways. They provide for conditions of support by means of infrastructure funding, purchase of rolling stock, debt cancellation with a view to financial rejuvenation, aid for restructuring, aid for coordination of transport State guarantees.

A 2011 Directive seeks to establish a single European railway area.  It merges previous directives and makes certain important substantive changes. The Directive sets exhaustive lists of conditions for licensing of railways on an EU wide basis and access to licensing data.

It requires detailed network statements.  These are documents to be published annually providing details of the characteristics of the available infrastructure and the conditions for use. It ensures non-discriminatory access of rail operators to rail-related services, such as stations, freight terminals and maintenance facilities.

A service provider belonging to a body with a dominant position in the market in question must be independent. Separate accounts and organisational and decision-making is required.  They need not be a separate legal entity.

The Directive provides for competitive and non-discriminatory charges for using infrastructure facilities and services.  It lays down rules on conflicts of interest and unfair practices in rail-related services.

National rail regulators must be independent.  They cannot have any stake in regulated companies.  Their nomination must be undertaken by authorities not exercising direct shareholder rights in regulated companies.  There are other provisions to protect their independence, including cooling-on and cooling-off to control staff movements between the regulator and the regulated undertakings.

They have the competence to impose sanctions and conduct audits.  They must work with their counterparts on cross-border issues.  Their powers have been extended to cover rail-related services in order to eliminate discrimination.

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