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Rail deregulation and liberalisation: The European Rail Summit

November 27, 2013
Author: Philip Martin

London hosted the inaugural European Rail Summit last October 2013. During the summit, the main topic discussed were the challenges that European rail deregulation is bringing.


Opening up the European market to competition

Brian Simpson MEP was the chairman for the first day, who you may remember we interviewed in October 2012, talked about the key challenges facing the rail industry.

The second big topic was “Opening up the market to competition in Europe” and its challenges: 

  • There is a big problem getting trains across international borders

  • Railway operators do not think European, but only within their own countries

  • Lack of rail standardisation - Requiring different types of standards to travel by train

  • Lack of openness from other countries e.g. Japan, whereas Europe is open and welcomes new countries and their companies to participate e.g. Hitachi

  • Lack of standard train ticketing system for European rail travel


The positive side of European Rail 

  • Railway workers are a special dedicated to their job

  • Europe is still #1 in the world for railway engineering, expertise and infrastructure

  • There has been great progress in effective marketing structures

  • Railways are  part of our social structure, as part of our transport structure


Competing in a liberalised vs a regulated rail market 

David Martin, Arriva's CEO, gave a broad perspective of “Comparative experience of operating in a liberalised versus a regulated rail market” and showed off the diversity of Arriva with 19,900 buses, 714 trains, 214 trams, 440 nonemergency ambulance/cars, and 16 waterbuses in its fleet today, a true intermodal company! According to David, there is evidence that a rail liberalised market delivers greater improvements only if there is transparency between processes and conditions throughout the tender process. In a competitive environment, the railways focus on a customer orientated strategy which further develops and encourage modal shift.



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