Phil Bennion MEP: EU railway package will cut costs for passengers

Groupe ALDEThe European Parliament today adopted a variety of measures aimed at reducing costs to railway companies and train manufacturers that should in turn reduce the cost of passenger fares.

In 2012 alone, 9.9 million passengers travelled by Eurostar to and from mainland Europe. This package will make it easier for other operators to bid to run services on the line by harmonising technical and safety standards and reducing administrative barriers.

Currently train manufacturers have to apply for certificates to sell rolling stock in each EU member state, while train companies have to deal with around 11,000 different safety rules to run trains across the EU. The introduction of new EU- wide rules will reduce costs, increase competition and make it easier for trains to travel across borders, leading to a reduction in passenger fares.

However, protectionist MEPs blocked ambitious proposals to open up the domestic rail markets of other EU countries to greater competition, a move that would have benefitted UK firms.

Liberal Democrat European Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion commented:

“These new rules will bring down the costs of operating railways, that can only be good news for passengers as it will lead to cheaper fares.

“However, I am disappointed that MEPs did not support increasing competition in domestic markets which could have reduced operating costs by almost a third.

“Opening up the single market in rail would lead to better and more affordable train travel across Europe.”