Rail Economics, Policy and Regulation in Europe
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Rail Economics, Policy and Regulation in Europe

Edited by Matthias Finger and Pierre Messulam

The European railway sector has undergone profound and predominantly institutional changes over the past 20 years, due to the initiatives of the European Commission. This book constitutes a first systematic assessment and account of the recent transformations of the industry along a series of critical yet contentious issues such as competition, unbundling, regulation, access charging, standards and interoperability, and public–private partnerships. It also covers the main railways sectors including passenger transport, high speed and freight.
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Chapter 7: Incumbents and new entrants in European rail freight

Roel Gevaers, Jochen Maes, Eddy Van de Voorde and Thierry Vanelslander


The European rail environment is clearly in movement. The White Paper on Transport (European Commission, 2011) aims to increase rail market share: by 2030, 30% of all freight transport over distances of more than 300 km is to be via rail or water. By 2050, this should have increased to 50%. The rail image of the past – that is, of a rail sector that evolves slowly in the areas of infrastructure, operations, capacity and terminals – needs to be cleared out. Furthermore, the rail sector suffers from a lack of investment, coupled with a high cost structure and a high price level. At the level of the European rail liberalization, a recast was conducted of the First Railway Package, dating back to July 1998 (European Council of Ministers of Transport, 2011). This involves a stricter division between rail infrastructure and rail exploitation. In January 2002, the Commission launched its Second Railway Package, which was approved in April 2004. This contains five measures in the field of liberalization and technical harmonization, with the aim of increasing safety and operability. At the end of 2008, the European Commission published a new proposal for a European rail network, now through the creation of rail freight corridors, based on three so-called business cases.

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