In December 2021, the EU Commission presented new proposals on modernising the EU transport system. Amending the Directive on Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) shall improve connectivity, shift passenger and freight transport to rail and promote the implementation of new digital technologies. AK and vida welcome a speedy completion of the TEN-T Network. However, the measures announced fall short of expectations in terms of regulations on employees and rail transport.
The Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) is an EU-wide network of roads, rails, inland waterways and short-sea shipping routes, which connects 424 larger cities with ports, airports and railway terminals. Within the framework of the TEN, the most important European transport corridors are defined, who are subject to minimum technical requirements and financial support from the EU budget. The goal of TEN-T policy is to create incentives for the sustainable and more efficient transport of passengers and goods, to guarantee access to jobs and services, and to enable trade as well as economic growth.
Mid-December 2021, the EU Commission proposed to amend the TEN-T-Directive. As regards existing regulations, the proposal accelerates the completion of key infrastructure projects, addresses urban mobility hubs and promotes international rail connections. Making international rail transport more attractive shall contribute to lowering greenhouse emissions to implement the Green Deal. The aim is to guarantee high speeds of over 160 km/h regarding passenger transport and of over 100 km/h in respect of freight transport. AK and vida welcome the intention of the EU Commission to complete TEN-T quickly. However, it has to be considered that solely focussing on international and high speed transport entails some risks: high speed transport may result in poorer train path utilisation if the same routes are also used for regional transport. However, regional transport accounts for 93 % of passengers in Europe, meaning it transports the most rail customers by far. From AK and vida’s point of view, the targets of the Green Deal are only achievable if more investments take place in urban and regional transport.
There are eleven million employees in the transport sector in Europe. They ensure the supply of goods in the Union and the mobility of the population. Hence, their jobs should be equally secure, as good working conditions, modern rest facilities and fair pay are the basic requirement for traffic management. Especially in the area of rest and recreation facilities, the proposal falls short of expectations. In many parts of Europe, the number of break and overnight rooms as well as their furnishing are often unacceptable. Hence, free, safe and modern parking facilities have to be ensured for all employees, as rested employees are vital for road safety. In addition, the maximum distance between two parking facilities at the Union’s TEN road network should not exceed 65 km.
Checks on compliance with applicable rules, for example on the technical condition of rolling stock or the suitability of employees, are handled very differently from one Member State or infrastructure manager to another. Type and number of controls as specified for road transport EU-wide do not exist for rail transport. Additionally, facilities for rail workers along rail infrastructure are very differently equipped. For example, it is often not guaranteed that employees will find the necessary sanitary facilities along the route. Similarly, there is no guarantee that trains will always be parked where there is minimal social infrastructure. From AK and vida’s point of view, rail safety can only be guaranteed by improving the social infrastructure for employees so that it is comprehensive, safe, and easily accessible. In addition, there is a need for controls to penalise infringements against current standards. Finally, employees need a uniform standard for data exchange to ensure that the provisions of working and rest times are permanently complied with and to ensure the necessary knowledge, for example with regard to infrastructure or vehicles.