Press Releases - 2015

IRG-Rail Plenary Assembly held in Rotterdam

Regulators ask for better access to rolling stock and a boost for the freight market
 
The Hague, the Netherlands, 16 November 2015

 

The Independent Regulators’ Group Rail (IRG-Rail) held its Plenary Assembly on November 11-12 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Rail regulators from 26 European countries gathered to approve common positions on the role and instruments for regulatory bodies under the Fourth Railway Package. Also, the Plenary Assembly agreed on common initial thoughts on the Revision of the Freight Corridor Regulation.

 

Access to rolling stock

The position paper on the regulators’ role and instruments under the Fourth Package has been accompanied by a survey on access to rolling stock for competitors of state-owned enterprises. The survey revealed that the liberalization of the European rail market cannot be fully completed without setting requirements on making rolling stock available to competitors by the previous operators. The Council recently removed such requirements from the Fourth Package. IRG-Rail believes this is a bad idea.

 

“At this point, there are no rules about the transfer of rolling stock once a tender process has been completed,” explains Henk Don, IRG-Rail Chair. “Incumbents are able to simply refuse to resell trains they no longer need. Or they ask an unrealistically high price. Such behavior creates barriers to entry for operators that wish to enter the rail market. ”

 

Rail freight transport needs a boost

The European rail regulators have also adopted common initial thoughts on the functioning of the rail freight transport market.

 

“What we are observing is that European rail freight transport does not meet the criteria for a well-functioning market just yet,” says Mr. Don, IRG-Rail Chair. “The creation of freight corridors has been a step in the right direction, but the rail freight transport market currently does not function as it should. If we are not careful, competition with road freight transport and inland waterway freight transport will not get off the ground.”

 

For the current revision of the Freight Corridor Regulation, IRG-Rail calls for amendments to regulations, which are needed to improve the market for rail freight transport. Mr. Don explains: “Stopgap solutions are insufficient for realizing a well-functioning market for rail freight transport. Concrete and clear steps forward are needed. As regulators, we also ask the European Commission to clarify our powers.”

 

Also at the Plenary Assembly, Anne Yvrande-Billon of the French regulator was elected as Vice-Chair for 2016. The next Plenary Assembly will be held in 2016, and will be chaired by Krzysztof Dyl of the Polish regulator, the current Vice-Chair.

 

 

Note to editors:

  1. The IRG-Rail is a network currently comprising independent rail Regulatory Bodies from twenty-five European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  2. Further information can be found on the website of the IRG-Rail at www.irg-rail.eu

IRG-Rail adopts position paper on further exceptions to competitive tendering

Regulators propose extra conditions on performance-based direct awarding

 
The Hague, the Netherlands, 15 July 2015

 

The Independent Regulators’ Group Rail (IRG-Rail) has adopted a position paper on the Dutch proposal for performance-based direct awarding of public service contracts.

 

Henk Don, chair of IRG-Rail, explains: „IRG Rail reiterates that it is a proponent of competitive tendering. Direct awarding of concessions is second best. However, if the Council and the European Parliament wish to proceed with performance-based direct awarding, they need to make sure that the approach is not misused, and that it leads to real efficiency improvements.“

 

In the position paper, the IRG-Rail stresses that the procedure for direct awarding should be transparent and properly focused on improving efficiency. Furthermore, appropriate supervision is necessary to ensure a fair and complete assessment by the awarding authority. Also, some sort of corrective mechanism is needed to challenge the assessment. This should be safeguarded by a proper sanctioning mechanism.

 

Note to editors:

  1. The IRG-Rail is a network currently comprising independent rail Regulatory Bodies from twenty-five European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  2. Further information can be found on the website of the IRG-Rail at www.irg-rail.eu

IRG-Rail welcomes new member Romania

The Hague, the Netherlands, 22 April 2015


IRG-Rail Chair Henk Don is delighted to welcome Romania as a new member of IRG-Rail, the forum of independent rail regulatory bodies in Europe.


“I am looking forward to working together with the Romanians,” said Mr. Don. “Together we are stronger than as individual organisations. We can be more effective as national rail regulators if we learn from each other, cooperate in particular in cross border issues, and define common positions on drafts for new European legislation.”


The arrival of Romania increases the membership of IRG-Rail to 26 countries.


“I am pleased that IRG-Rail continues to grow. Now almost all EU regulators are member of IRG-Rail.” said Mr. Don, who is also a member of the Board of the Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets. “This is a crucial time in the process towards a single European rail market, and close cooperation between independent regulatory bodies is vital to ensure the best outcomes for passengers, freight customers and taxpayers.”


Note to editors:

  1. The IRG-Rail is a network currently comprising independent rail Regulatory Bodies from twenty-six European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  2. Further information can be found on the website of IRG-Rail at www.irg-rail.eu

IRG-Rail Plenary Assembly held in The Hague

Regulators agree on common positions on the Fourth Railway Package and service facilities
 
The Hague, the Netherlands, 15 April 2015

 

The Independent Regulators’ Group ‐ Rail (IRG-Rail) held its Plenary Assembly on the April 14-15 in The Hague, the Netherlands. Rail regulators from 22 European countries gathered to approve common positions regarding the Fourth Railway Package and access to service facilities.

 

The Plenary Assembly approved two position papers. This includes a paper on competitive tendering for public service contracts.

 

Competitive tendering
“IRG-Rail is a proponent of competitive tendering,” says Henk Don, 2015 Chair of IRG-Rail. “Direct award of concessions is second best, if only because of the difficulty in stimulating a railway undertaking to operate efficiently in case of a direct award.”


As there are still ongoing negotiations between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council, IRG-Rail points out the benefits of competitive tendering, and it is concerned about proposals to allow direct award not just as a rare exception.


IRG-Rail Chair Henk Don explains: “It is important that new rail undertakings will have the opportunity to compete for public service contracts. Competition is not an end in itself, but can provide a benchmark and guarantee efficiency in use of public funds and performance. Competitive tendering is an integral part of market opening. It leads to improvement in efficiency and quality. We have seen positive examples of this in Sweden, UK and Germany where better value for public money was reached.”

 

Service facilities

IRG-Rail also adopted its second position paper on access to service facilities, like stations and freight terminals. It covers independence requirements for operators of service facilities, procedures concerning the ‘use it or lease it’ rules and a further clarification of IRG-Rail’s position regarding the concept of ‘viable alternatives’ for service facilities.

 

“Access to service facilities is essential for railway undertakings. They should be able to seriously compete for public rail tenders. Safeguards are needed that protect entrants in the rail market,” IRG-Rail Chair Henk Don explains. “Independent decision-making by the operators of service facilities is therefore as important for new railway undertakings as are clear rules for access. Furthermore, IRG-Rail stresses the importance of a good procedure for dispute resolution when issues about access to service facilities arise. As rail regulators we should be able to prevent disputes, but when they occur we need clear procedures to settle them.”

 

The next IRG-Rail Plenary Assembly will take place in November 2015, also in The Hague, the Netherlands.

 

Note to editors:

  1. The IRG-Rail is a network currently comprising independent rail Regulatory Bodies from twenty-five European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  2. Further information and all papers adopted at the Plenary Assembly can be found on the website of IRG-Rail at www.irg-rail.eu 

IRG-Rail publishes its third annual Market Monitoring Report

The Hague, the Netherlands, 7 April 2015

 

The Independent Regulators' Group - Rail (IRG-Rail), comprising rail regulatory bodies from 25 European countries, has published its third annual Market Monitoring Report. IRG-Rail acts as a platform for national railway regulators in order to exchange information and to share best practices, so that regulatory challenges can be dealt with in a consistent manner across Europe.

 

The Market Monitoring Report provides an overview of national rail statistics over the year 2013 of the countries monitored. The Market Monitoring Report is a unique document that represents the development of the European railway market and serves as a detailed source of information for stakeholders. The report enhances the understanding of the European rail market. With the participation of Spain, Bulgaria and Kosovo, the report is based on the data of 20 countries.

 

Henk Don, 2015 Chair of IRG-Rail, explains: “By combining their national market monitoring activities and a common approach to data collection, the members of IRG-Rail are able to contribute to a better understanding of the rail market in Europe. Rail market monitoring is an essential instrument for gathering market information, guiding the activities of the regulatory bodies and stimulating market participants to improve their activities."

 

The third annual Market Monitoring Report highlights are: 

  • While the total amount of both freight train and passenger kilometres decreased by 0,5 percent, average revenues increased both for freight (+0,3 %) and passenger (+0,5%). Sweden showed a strong growth (+7,2%) in passenger train kilometres.
  • Overall freight transport performance in tonne kilometres is 1,8% higher than the value in the base year (2010) and only saw a marginal increase compared with 2013. In Slovenia the  growth in freight tonne kilometres exceeded 10%. The only country to see growth in all years since base year 2010 is the United Kingdom.
  • Compared with the base year 2010, revenues from track access charges per freight train kilometre fell by 2,2% whilst charges per passenger train kilometre increased by 8,2%. Still, most countries had higher revenues from track access charges from freight than from passenger trains;
  • In most countries, the market share of the incumbent passenger operator declined. The strongest growth of non-incumbent operators was in Austria and Poland.

  

Note to editors:                                                       

  1. The IRG-Rail is a network currently comprising independent rail Regulatory Bodies from twenty-five European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  1. For more information about the IRG-Rail, visit: www.irg-rail.eu

Speech of the IRG-Rail Chair Henk Don at the Passenger Rail Europe conference

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 17 March 2015

 

The following speech was held by the IRG-Rail Chair Henk Don on Tuesday, 17 March 2015, in the Mariott Hotel in Amsterdam at the Passenger Rail Europe conference.

Speech Henk Don, Passenger Rail Europe conference
Speech Passenger Rail Europe.pdf
PDF-Dokument [189.7 KB]

IRG-Rail publishes its Annual Report 2014

 

The Hague, the Netherlands, 11 March 2015

 

The Independent Regulators' Group - Rail (IRG-Rail), comprising rail regulatory bodies from 25 European countries, has published its Annual Report. Throughout 2014, the IRG-Rail continued sharing best practices, speaking with one voice in Brussels, and working towards a cohesive regulatory approach.

 

The Annual Report highlights a number of key achievements:

 

  • supporting the European freight corridor with a checklist for regulatory bodies to monitor the development of the so-called Corridor One-Stop-Shop;
  • minimizing differences in charging practices across Europe with a newly established subgroup on charging for service facilities; 
  • explaining concerns on several amendments (f.e. exemptions to mandatory competitive tendering of service contracts) put forward by the European Parliament on the Fourth Railway Package, which aims to harmonize the European railway market;
  • harmonization of the monitoring principles amongst IRG-Rail members in order to be better able to compare available data throughout Europe by publishing the second IRG-Rail market monitoring report;
  • welcoming the Italian rail regulator amongst its members.

 

Henk Don, 2015 Chair of the IRG-Rail: “Over the coming year the IRG-Rail will continue to push for measures to ensure that rail markets are opened up, bringing benefits in cost and service. In particular, the IRG-Rail will play an active role in discussions about the Fourth Railway Package, access to service facilities like railway stations and the ongoing improvement of the European freight corridors.”

 

 

Note to editors:

  1. The IRG-Rail is a network currently comprising independent rail Regulatory Bodies from twenty-five European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

 

  1. For more information about the IRG-Rail, visit: www.irg-rail.eu

Henk Don new Chairman of the IRG-Rail

 

 

The Hague, the Netherlands, 31 December 2014

 

On behalf of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), Henk Don has been elected Chairman of the Independent Regulators Group - Rail (IRG-Rail) from 1 January, 2015, for a period of one year. He succeeds Jacques Prost (Luxembourg), who served as Chairman in 2014. Krzysztof Dyl, President of Poland's Office of Rail Transport (UTK), will serve as Vice-Chair in 2015 and Chair in 2016.