Photo: ČD Cargo
Last week the European Commission adopted the fifth report on the development of the European rail market. The report shows that EU legislation on rail, which encourages competitiveness and market opening, has led to a more efficient and customer-responsive industry. In Member States where rail markets are opened, competition can result overall in lower fares for customers and better value for taxpayers. After adoption of the 4th Railway Package, the focus of the Commission will be on the implementation of existing legislation to bring about further performance improvement.
The report shows that, on average, the market share of competing freight operators (15% in 2006) had more than doubled by 2014. At the end of 2014, rail freight transport was 100% in the hands of national incumbent still in Finland, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania and Luxembourg.
Market shares of competitors in passenger markets are lower, given the different stage of market opening, being well below of 20% in all Member States except in Poland and the United Kingdom. Open access competition has developed in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Safety and services
Railway safety continued to improve between 2010 and 2014, with fatalities, serious injuries and significant accidents all decreasing. In 2013, the fatality risk for a rail passenger was 16 times lower than for a person travelling by car.
In 2009, with the low point of the economic crisis, rail freight volumes dropped heavily. Rail passenger volumes however, were hardly impacted. More than 50% of freight traffic in 2014 was international giving rail freight a much stronger European dimension than is the case for passenger traffic (only 6% international). Latest developments show that rail freight currently has a good 3% average annual increase rate.
The total length of rail network in 2014 was about 220,000 kilometres increasing by 2% in comparison to 2009. 52% of the network is so far electrified. Network utilisation rates are highest in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Denmark, Austria, Belgium and Germany.
Infrastructure expenditure increased from EUR 29 billion in 2011 to EUR 45 billion in 2014. Under the current EU financial framework (2014-2020) more than EUR 33 billion in grants has been allocated to rail investment.
At the end of 2014 about 900,000 people were employed by rail operators and infrastructure managers – a decrease of 4% compared to 2009. The workforce is predominately male and the proportion of workers over 40 is in many companies more than 50%. But after long recruitment freezes, rail companies have begun to recruit again.
The overall cost of the rail operations and infrastructure management was around EUR 110 billion of which 60% was covered by passenger and freight revenue, 30% by public subsidies to operations and network management, and the remainder by other sources of income (2012 data). On average, the split between infrastructure and operator costs in national rail systems is approximately 30%:70 %. Rolling stock fleet for both passenger and freight has been in decline since 2009. Passenger revenue has increased significantly, while total operating costs have remained broadly static in real terms.
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