Spoorlijn in Duitsland

Harmonization achievable by transformation of Track Access Charges

If the transformation op the Track Access Charges (TAC’s) will be applied in all European Countries, there definitely can be a chance that these charges will be harmonized throughout Europe. This is the expectation of Senior Project Manager train path pricing system Wolfram Merzyn of DB Netz AG. Merzyn will give a presentation on 12 April at the Track Access Charges Summit in Bern.

What is the frame of the European legislation when it comes to the track access charges?

The European Directive 2012/34 defines the future basic logic for track access charges. With the help of the Directive, the EU intends to harmonize infrastructure charges in Europe. Costs, directly incurred as a result of operating the train service are defined as the basis for the track access charges. As these costs represent only a small part of the full costs of DB Netz (only 30 %), the European and national law authorizes DB Netz to raise mark-ups in order to close the gap for full cost recovery. The mark-ups have to be differentiated by market segments. Furthermore, the law allows different surcharges, for example, a surcharge for environmental cost, a surcharge for congested lines or a discount for new traffics. The EU Directive will be transferred into national law in the form of the “Eisenbahnregulierungsgesetz” (ERegG). The legislative process is currently running.

What does this new legislation mean for the freight train operators?

There will be no specific consequences for freight operators. Nevertheless, the new law is a chance for more market-based TACs and more harmonization across Europe.

What are the advantages for the freight train operators and their clients?

The future TAC’s will be easier in use because freight operators will only pay one price on their entire route per kilometre. Moreover, there are special rates for traffic with high flexibility regarding their route and their timetable.

What does it mean for the train procurement?

There will be no specific influence. The information which is already used and deposited for ordering today will be nearly sufficed in future for ordering train paths.

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Spoorlijn in Duitsland

Do you think that the EU should co-finance in train and wagon procurement?

Any form of financial assistance is fundamentally positive but should keep into consideration the well-developed train-lease or financing market. The digitization of the train path ordering process train paths will be demand very expensive investments. In this way, it is, of course, useful if public funding support is available.
Also, any kind of financial help for RU within the procurement of trains and wagons is a big help for the market. Nevertheless, this process has been neutral towards competition and should not weaken private initiative.

Do you expect that the new legislation will contribute in the harmonization and simplification of the TAC’s in Europe?

With the help of the Directive, the EU aims to harmonize the European railway sector regarding infrastructure charges. If the transformation happens in all European countries, we definitely see a chance to harmonize the TAC across Europe.

How can it help the railway sector in general?

By the future basic logic of pricing, there is a chance to orientate the track access charges even more to meet market needs.

What does it mean for international transportation?

The new rules have no direct impact on international transports. However, any improvement and simplification of the system help the railway sector in total.

What do you think of SBB’s approach?

The approach of the SBB is very interesting. As it is a very complex system and the ability to “plan trains and their costs “will be more difficult, it will be interesting to see, whether the system unfolds the desired effects.

Do you think that Germany can learn from this approach?

Any approach used in Europe is interesting. We are also always looking for best practice approaches. If we can learn from the approach of the SBB, will we see in the course of time.

Wolfrang Merzyn, Senior Project Manager train path pricing system DB Netz AG

Author: Marieke van Gompel

Marieke van Gompel is editor-in-chief of RailTech.com, RailFreight.com and SpoorPro.nl, online magazines for railway professionals.

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