Europe’s Rail Industry Says ‘Polluter-Pays’ Principle Only Way To Sustainable Transport

By: | at 08:00 PM | Intermodal  

The revision this year of the Eurovignette Directive is an important step towards the creation of a true level playing field between the different transport modes and towards the promotion of a modal shift in favour of rail, said UNIFE Chairman, Mr Andr’ Navarri.

Addressing delegates and especially Europe’s Commissioner for Transport Jacques Barrot at the 6th World Congress on High-Speed Rail taking place in Amsterdam, Mr Navarri highlighted the fact that Europe urgently needs the right set of conditions for a level playing field between the different competing transport modes. The 3-day conference has brought together delegates, exhibitors, business leaders and politicians from around the world, with the theme this year being ‘High-speed ’ Fast track to sustainable mobility.’

‘If Europe really wants to meet its ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 the EU needs to decide on a legal framework where the train is no longer punished with energy taxes and VAT on tickets while the plane receives full tax exemptions on fuel and VAT,’ said the UNIFE Chairman. Rail has the lowest internal costs of all modes of transport he added.

The current Eurovignette Directive which Mr Navarri eluded to in his speech allows EU Member States to levy road-usage charges on heavy commercial vehicles of more than 3.5tonnes on specific EU-designated Trans European roads but does not oblige the outright implementation of such a scheme. The main novelty expected from the Directive’s revision is the possibility to integrate ‘external costs’ associated with road transport into tolling prices.

Also in his opening speech to delegates, Mr Navarri pointed to the impressive travel times which are today changing the way people think of intercity and international mobility, citing the examples of Madrid-Barcelona on AVE, London-Paris on Eurostar and Frankfurt-Paris on ICE amongst others.

Citing the Spanish example of massive investment in high-speed rail infrastructure, Mr Navarri underlined the impressive economic figures which high-speed contributes to, saying ‘rail investments have resulted in the creation of some 210,000 jobs and contributed to the economic growth of the country by 2.1 percentage points over the last 15 years. Moreover, the recently opened Madrid-Barcelona line will save 170 million tonnes of CO2 per year, compared with if the same journeys had been taken by air and road!’

Mr Navarri went on quote the Stern Review of 2007 on the economics of climate change stating ‘the world does not need to choose between averting climate change and promoting growth and development. And clearly, if we look at the transport sector, Stern is right. Rail transport is the solution we all have in our minds.’

‘High-speed rail has today become one of the single most important investment strategies for a country to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and contribute to the welfare of citizens while at the same time, fighting climate change.


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