On the occasion of the ERFA Strategy Day Workshop, an internal meeting of private rail freight companies in Europe, the unfriendly business environment for rail freight and the weak state of the industry were heavily discussed. As rail does not have a competitive market, in most EU Member States one dominant market player, normally the state-owned company, trounces the competition, with the nearest, biggest competitor trailing far behind.
The presentation of Joakim Landholm, CEO of Hector Rail, highlighted concerns related to the dominance of incumbents, in terms of distorting prices and limiting the customer-orientation as well as the lack of crucial and complete data in the sector. Geert Pauwels, CEO of Lineas stressed the failure of rail to make any significant gains from modal shift until now and the importance of a shift towards rail freight as crucial and urgent for sustainable logistics in Europe.
During the day the key role of national governments and infrastructure managers in supporting rail?s competitiveness was underlined. The German Master Plan should be developed as best practice in other European countries with a focus on international services.
The European Commission was also present at the meeting to outline on how they could support the reduction of the access charges in the rail sector and to present the Eurovignette directive as an instrument to level the playing field between rail and road.