Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment
The DTLR today launched consultation on the European Commission's latest proposals ...
The DTLR today launched consultation on the European Commission's latest proposals

for revitalising Europe's railways. Comments have been invited by 19

August. The comments received will help inform the government's

negotiating position in Brussels.

John Spellar said:

'We share the commission's objective of improving the quality and

efficiency of rail services, so that rail can play an increased role

in the transport system, and help tackle road congestion and

pollution. There is much that we can welcome in these new proposals.

'The proposed completion of liberalisation of rail freight would

provide new opportunities for UK firms in continental markets and

increase competition in those countries that still restrict access,

reducing costs and improving services to customers. Better

integration of Europe's railways through harmonised technical rules

is also something we can welcome in principle. But harmonisation can

impose costs too, so we will need to be sure that the benefits of the

proposed measures are clear and fully justify any costs. This

consultation exercise will help us to identify where we should be

most supportive, and most cautious, in the forthcoming negotiations.'

The proposals cover:

- Accelerated completion of the liberalisation of the rail freight

market, so that freight train operators have freedom to operate

domestic or international services anywhere in the EU;

- Further measures to promote the interoperability of EU rail systems

- ie the use of common technical specifications to promote

greater competition and economies of scale in the railway supply

industry and to make it easier for trains to operate across

different national networks;

- A harmonised system of railway safety regulation based on national

safety authorities, separate national accident investigation

bodies, and common safety methods and targets;

- The creation of a European Rail Agency as a technical body staffed

from the rail industry to co-ordinate work on developing proposals

for harmonised technical specifications and safety rules - for

formal decision by the commission and member states.

- A mandate for the European Community to become a party to the

Convention on International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) - a long

standing intergovernmental agreement between forty countries, which

facilitates international freight and passenger rail traffic

The commission's Communication also indicates that they will bring

forward further measures to improve the quality of freight and

passenger services over the next three years.


1. These proposals were foreseen in the Commission's Transport

White Paper published in September 2001. They were published by the

Commission on 23 January 2002, and can be found at

2. The department will be sending copies of the consultation

document to over 100 organisations in the UK with an interest in

the development of rail services. It will also be available on the

DTLR website.

3. Access to the rail freight market in Great Britain has been open

since 1994. To date, two EU Directives on rail interoperability

have been agreed - one has been implemented in UK law, the other is

due to be by March 2003. These set out the procedures and

specifications to be followed when projects on the trans-European

rail system are taken forward by Member States. The proposals on

the structure of safety regulation are compatible with Lord

Cullen's recommendations - now being taken forward - to set up a

Rail Industry Safety Body and an independent Rail Accident

Investigation Body.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.