ICC Document & publication

The liberalization of rail transport in Europe

World business, as represented by ICC, has long pointed out the essential role of transport in facilitating trade and economic growth.

Globalization and the steady increase in world trade has led to increased demand from buyers for rapid and time-sensitive delivery of goods. To satisfy those demands, companies are increasingly dependent on user-oriented, time-reliable intermodal transport networks. Only a liberalized and interoperable rail system, that is open to competition, can meet its full potential as an indispensable link in the intermodal transport chain and as a mode of its own.

For rail transport of goods, an open, commercially-oriented market will mean better quality, increase in demand and increased market share. This in turn would make it possible for rail companies to make new investments. In a well functioning market, rail transport can play an essential role as a viable link in the intermodal supply chain and in the logistical strategies of companies. In this way it can also contribute to the growth of the economy.

ICC understands that achieving the needed change will take time and will require a partnership approach between governmental authorities, shippers, operators and infrastructure owners. Because substantial progress is needed, it needs to be tackled now, with a clear liberalization implementation timetable for EU decisions, and with firm deadlines, as has been the case in the telecommunications sector in many countries and regions.

The most important way to come to an efficient rail sector is to introduce competition so that operators implement the necessary rationalization measures and tap the benefits of a market-based approach.