Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

LIBERAIL, Liberalised and interoperable railways

The LIBERAIL research project has:
- studied the existing conditions in Europe, Northern America and Japan, identifying the main reasons of the present infrastructure policy and the major obstacles to enhancing more competition;
- analysed more in-depth the rail infrastructure management and made a comparison with the non-rail competing modes for a number of case studies;
- assessed the impacts and prospects of liberalised and interoperable railways;
- sought for a common methodology to evaluate the capacity of rail infrastructure and
- made effort to establish a common method for calculating the cost of using infrastructure.

All to make manifest the new potential of rail transport under the influence of liberalisation of the use of infrastructure. In addition, Liberal has commented the proposal for adjusted EC Directives.

One of the keys to further progress in implementing the EC Directives is to ensure that competition works on a similar basis for all, to avoid "cherry picking" and to mitigate (although not explicitly mentioned) the feared social impacts of liberalisation. Until now, only very few countries have adapted their regulations and corresponding bodies to a level needed to be able to guarantee so. In addition, authorities should prevent misuses such as prohibitive pricing or dumping. The new Directives should include guidelines for railway reforms and common operational, managerial and performance indicators, so as to enable benchmarking.

Under the present circumstances, in many countries, the overall costs of the infrastructure cannot be fully raised within the railway system itself. At least during a transition period, the IM has to be compensated as long as the capability of operators to pay is below the real costs of the infrastructure. As investments for railway infrastructure have to compete with all other State expenditures, statutory policies and procedures have to ensure effective long-term planning. Besides, with the price instrument, public authorities can substantially influence transport policies as well as external consequences on the environment and on regional development.

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