Concern in UK over French reform

Rail Freight Group (RFG), which represents the British rail freight industry, has voiced concerns to José Manuel Barroso over the railway reform announced by the French government, on 30 October. In a letter sent to the European Commission president, on 2 November (with a copy to Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas), RFG President Tony Berkeley states that the French government “is making a mockery of European law”. The new structure being considered for the French railway, which will bring under the same umbrella the infrastructure manager (RFF) and the SNCF, is contrary to existing EU legislation and to forthcoming reforms under the fourth railway package, he notes. “This new arrangement will kill competition.”

RFG is concerned in particular about rail freight transport via the Channel Tunnel. “Operators who are not SNCF, such as Europorte and Euro Cargo Rail (DB Schenker), suffer badly from unfair train path allocation and general obstruction by SNCF in France to the development of new services,” reacted the association the day after the French announcement.
Berkeley goes on to note that the planned reform is likely to be damaging to prospects for growth in rail traffic between France and the United Kingdom. “I believe that it is essential that you as president send a clear signal to France, and other member states as necessary, of the need to comply with the spirit and the letter of European railway legislation,” reads the letter. Berkeley calls for the fourth railway package to contain clear requirements on full separation between infrastructure management and transport operations.

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