Improved rail performance in terms of reliability, speed, punctuality, traceability and innovation are key to winning customers over to rail. ERFA favours a competitive environment as a means to meet customer needs. A monopoly service will never have the same pressure to decrease costs, improve quality and innovate as companies who are competing against each other for customers.The role of infrastructure managers in supporting a high performance of the rail network is crucial if railway undertakings are to offer a service that as a minimum matches the ease and reliability of the current road offer.
Top 5 ERFA priorities to improve quality:
Rail Freight Corridors
It is vital to improve the performance of international rail services if rail is to maximise its potential on longer distance routes. The current corridor structures do not sufficiently meet the market needs. Poor quality of the paths, lack of priority of freight trains during disturbances, poor coordination of infrastructure works and lack of interoperability all contribute to a weak product. The rail corridors must be empowered with stronger operational competences to manage cross-border services.
Coordination of infrastructure works
Late information regarding planned disruptions; limited provision of and/or unsuitable diversionary routes; uncoordinated infrastructure works across one or more networks, all contribute to a poor quality of rail service. Existing EU rules must be used to minimise the impact of disruptions on rail services. Effective organisation and coordination of planned line closures/restrictions is a good basis for better management when there are unplanned disturbances.
RU compensation scheme for disruptions
ERFA seeks to spread best practice across EU countries to ensure infrastructure managers have the right financial incentives to minimise the impact of planned disruptions on the rail network. Railway undertakings should be automatically compensated for a restricted use of the network, thereby compensating for the poorer quality of service and incentivising better infrastructure investment planning.
Tracking and Tracing of goods
Rail customers need reliable and real-time information regarding their train status and estimated time of arrival. Today’s restricted access to data limits is a barrier to creating greater efficiencies, reducing costs and a more customer-orientated business. ERFA supports the on-going work of the ELETA project, awarded 12 million EUR of EU funding to tackle and improve data exchange.
EU budget for rail
The EU has long supported investments in the more sustainable modes of transport, with rail as a key beneficiary. In the run-up to the next EU budget framework ERFA calls for an increase or at minimum maintaining the current EU investment levels for rail and better targeting of funding to support better quality rail services, e.g accelerating small-scale investments in the rail freight corridors to create seamless rail travel.