Lords to debate EU Committee report on Rail Freight Package

20 October 2009

Members of the House of Lords will debate two recent European Union Committee reports on Friday 23 October, 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 23 October in the House of Lords Chamber.

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."

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 takes place earlier in the day, is on a recent report on the EU Consumer Rights Directive.

Further information

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