Press Notice: Rail Freight Package

House of Lords Press Release
Embargo: Immediate Tuesday 20 October 2009
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659

HOUSE OF LORDS TO DEBATE EU COMMITTEE REPORT ON THE RAIL FREIGHT PACKAGE

The House of Lords will this Friday debate two recent European Union Committee reports including a report on the European Commission's First Rail Freight Package published in June this year.

The report called on the Commission to reform the First Rail Freight Package to prevent the same companies acting as both train operators and infrastructure managers. The Lords EU Committee argued that without a complete separation of these functions there is a risk of unfair and restrictive practices which have constrained the growth of rail as a means of transporting freight across Europe.

The Committee also called for the recast of the package to clarify infrastructure charges levied on train operators by requiring Member States to agree multi-annual contracts with infrastructure managers and give detailed guidance on which costs and mark-ups infrastructure managers can include in their access charges.

The report stressed that the European Commission should ensure infrastructure managers do not discriminate between train operators in charges levied for 'last mile' services such as the loading and unloading of freight trains.

The debate on the report is expected to start after 11am on Friday 23 October in the House of Lords.

Commenting ahead of the debate Lord Freeman, who chaired the Lords Committee who produced the report, said:

"Getting more freight off the roads and onto the railways will have a vital role to play in reducing CO2 emissions across Europe.

"It is therefore very important that the European Commission gets its recast of the First Rail Freight Package right to ensure rail freight market is open and companies managing rail infrastructure do not favour particular train operators. In the UK we have a proper separation between infrastructure managers and train operators and it is time countries across Europe followed that model.

"The recast is an opportunity for the European Commission to encourage a renaissance in rail freight. In our debate in the Lords on Friday we will discuss this crucial issue and explore how the situation has developed since our report in June."

Notes to Editors

  1. The debate on the First Rail Freight Package is one of two debates in the House of Lords on European Union Committee reports on Friday 23 October. The other debate which we take place earlier in the day is on a recent report on the EU Consumer Rights Directive.
  2. Anyone wishing to attend the House of Lords to watch the debate should enter Parliament via St Stephen's Entrance and arrive in time to pass through Parliamentary security.
  3. If you are unable to attend the House of Lords you can follow the debate online at www.parliamentlive.tv
  4. For more information about the House of Lords European Union Committee or to download a copy of the report on the First Rail Freight Package please see: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/lords_s_comm_b.cfm

For further information, or to request an interview with Lord Freeman, please contact Owen Williams, Head of Press and Media, House of Lords on 020 7219 8659.