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LETTER TO THE EDITOR : NON-RESPECT OF RULES UNDER FIRST RAIL PACKAGE - ADVOCATE-GENERAL'S OPINION.

Reacting to our article entitled Rail transport - Advocate-general says German model legal' ain Europolitics 4481, Tony Berkeley, member of the Board of Directors of the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA), sent us the following letter:

The poodle bites back!

Your report (7 September) on the advocate-general's statement that Germany's holding company model is legal under EU law covers the political fall-out well. So Dr Grube of DB wants competition on DB's terms, and Guillaume Pepy of SNCF says that there is no link between separation and competition.

There speak the voices of the two biggest monopolies in European rail!

DB is being investigated by DG COMP for unfair pricing of electricity supplied to other operators, and SNCF's control of the network access and timetable, both make it extremely difficult for other operators to provide good services to their customers. These are classic actions of monopolists who also have control of other parts of the network, which restrict or prevent fair competition with private sector operators. They agree that growth needs competition, but accepting competition as fair and transparent, with no secret links between infrastructure manager and train operator, is clearly too much for them.

What private operator will risk his shareholders' profits and business against such obstructions with little or no hope of a legal remedy? What private operator will risk starting new cross-border services if each member state is allowed to set the structure of its railway, as CER appear to prefer?

To operate successfully and prosper, private operators need fair competition in an equitable and transparent structure across Europe, with no links to infrastructure managers. If they don't get this, they may go bust or sell to an incumbent, many of whom seem to have unlimited state funds to buy up the competition.

So the solution is for the Commission to bring forward legislation that will force separation on all EU railways and set the structure for the private sector to compete - and make money. I urge the Commission to make this the core of the fourth railways package.

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Sep 17, 2012
Words:341
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