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            october 21, 2019

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Busworld 2019

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MEPs call for more flexible rules


A "European rail network for competitive freight" was given first-reading approval by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today. The legislation aims to reduce traffic congestion and improve the efficiency of freight transport across the EU through the organisation of international rail freight corridors.
Rail is currently the least integrated transport mode at EU level, leading to delays, extra costs and insufficient use of the potential of rail freight.
According to the criteria laid down by MEPs as they adopted a first-reading report by Petr Duchoň (EPP-ED, CZ) by 532 votes to 19 with 42 abstentions, the corridors would link at least two Member States and would be part of the TEN-T (Trans-European Network for Transport) programme. MEPs ensured that rail sections which are not part of the TEN-T network but which carry "high or potentially high volumes of freight traffic" may also be part
of the corridors.

"Facilitated freight"
Freight traffic across the corridors would be managed by a governance body, comprised of the various infrastructure managers involved with the freight corridor. This body would be responsible for determining priority rules in cases of traffic disruption and congestion. A specific category named "facilitated freight" is defined, for highly time-sensitive goods. MEPs renamed this category "facilitated", arguing that the Commission's original term - "priority" - did not allow for the necessary flexibility in traffic management.

Balance between freight transport and passenger transport
MEPs insisted that granting too high a level of priority to freight transport to the detriment of passenger transport would be unwise. They voted for more flexibility in the management of the corridors, namely through amendments which oblige the infrastructure managers to take into account previous levels of utilisation and estimated market needs before allocating train paths and deciding timetables.

When will the corridors be set up?
Within one year, Member States which have at least two direct rail links with other Member States would have to allow at least one freight corridor. Within three years, all Member States would have to allow at least one corridor.MEPs insisted that the decision to create more corridors should be left to the Member States, on the basis of market needs.

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