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.”

Bennion: Welcome EU infrastructure investment

The Liberal Democrat European transport spokesman, Phil Bennion, has welcomed today’s adoption of an EU infrastructure package worth EUR 33bn between 2014 and 2020.

The ‘Connecting Europe’ programme will help fund and facilitate projects of common interest in the areas of energy, transport and infrastructure. The UK’s West Coast Main Line corridor is among the identified priority projects that would be eligible for EU funding.

Dr Phil Bennion MEP said: Continue reading

Bennion: New EU rules on flight times will not lower standards in UK

Commenting on today’s European Parliament vote to approve common EU flight time limits for pilots, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion MEP said:

“This is a sensible outcome. Despite concerns from pilots’ unions, these rules will not lower safety standards in the UK.

“In fact, a common system for pilot flight times will raise standards in Europe across the board, ensuring that British passengers are safe no matter what EU airline they fly with.”   Continue reading

Bennion: UK government right to support EU pilot flying time limits

Speaking after new rules on flying time limits were rejected in the European Parliament’s Transport Committee today, Liberal Democrat MEP Phil Bennion commented:

“I am not convinced by the argument put forward by the pilots union that this proposal would lower standards in the UK. The British government was advised by the Civil Aviation Authority on all the safety aspects throughout the negotiations, and I believe they were right in saying that the best balance had already been struck.”  Continue reading

Lib Dem MEP welcomes EU top court ruling on rail compensation

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Transport Spokesperson Phil Bennion has welcomed today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice that rail passengers are entitled to a partial refund of the price of their train ticket in the event of significant delay, even where that delay is attributable to “force majeure”.  Continue reading