With a no-deal Brexit increasingly likely, and no agreement reached regarding basic rail connectivity through the Channel Tunnel between the UK and EU, there is a risk of severe disruption to services. As such, the Rail Freight Group (RFG) welcomes the European Commission’s proposal for contingency measures.
However, at present, the European Commission’s measures focus exclusively on the validity of safety licenses for cross-border rail infrastructure managers. In order to keep freight moving through the Channel Tunnel, further measures are essential: railway undertakings also require valid safety certificates issued under Art. 10 of 2004/49/EC, valid licenses issued under Chapter III of Directive 2012/34/EU and valid licenses for train drivers issued under Directive 2007/59/EC.
The RFG urges the European Commission to uphold the current industry standard and agreed directives and give railway undertakings a transitional period of 12 months to allow sufficient time for concluding the necessary requirements for licensing. The proposal would also ensure that contingency measures for rail are equivalent to those for road and air transport. For road, the Commission’s contingency measures would allow UK-licensed trucks and coaches to continue to provide basic road services to and from the European Union for nine months. Whilst for air transport, the contingency measures would allow air carriers licensed in the UK to continue to provide basic services between nine and 12 months.
Maggie Simpson, RFG Director General, said: “Although we hope that the UK Government and the EU will avoid a no-deal exit, we must have the necessary provisions in place to ensure that vital rail freight trains can continue to operate. We welcome the move from the Commission to start establishing this framework, but this must be concluded as a matter of urgency and include all the necessary provisions to keep trains moving.”