Was waiving track access charges actually a good idea?

Throughout the pandemic, track access charges were reduced, mark-ups were waived and infrastructure managers were compensated, in order to support the rail sector in these difficult times. Now that the pandemic is making its retreat, what does the market look like? Does it still need support? And what are the consequences of market interference?

Next week, the Track Access Charges Summit takes place. During this hybrid event, the most recent developments in track access charging (TAC) will be discussed over a two-day period by experts from all over the world.

What do we know now?

What happens with the mark-ups that were skipped during covid? Is the market able to shoulder them now? What did we learn from waivers? Have they contributed to the survival of rail freight and passenger rail, or has it affected the ability of the market to bear charges?

Infrastructure managers have been compensated for the loss in revenue in most cases, but not across the board. Although the number of trains are now largely back to normal, the revenue of infrastructure managers is not yet at a pre-COVID level, especially in those cases where compensation was insufficient. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed now, the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) said when presenting its COVID impact tracker in February. Are these issues indeed addressed?

You can tune in to listen or participate in the discussion during the event, provided you have a ticket. The event takes place in Rotterdam, but you can also join digitally. Tickets can be found here.

What else?

The pandemic has not been the only development impacting upon TAC since the last summit, now two years ago. The Green Deal has increased the sense urgency regarding rail transport, and the sector has highlighted the need for a level playing field compared to road. Akos Ersek from UIRR talk about this topic.

Mark ups are a suitable way to incentivise green transport, by charging less when the journey has a smaller CO2 footprint. What else can be done? Maris Andiņs from LatRailNet as well as Normunds Krumins from the Latvian Logistics Association share their expertise on this topic.

Looking abroad

This year, there will be a special emphasis on some country-specific cases. Rail Baltica is in the spotlight. Will the new corridor be the first example of a harmonised TAC principle? It is what the EU has always wanted, but was not able to due to a complex transport landscape. However, Rail Baltica is a green-field project. Is this the advantage needed for a harmonised fee on the corridor? Jānis Eiduks and Kaspars Briskens, both from Rail Baltica, will be able to share the latest information.

Apart from Rail Baltica, we will also look at the Middle Corridor, which currently plays an important role as an alternative to the main route between Europe and China. However, the financial attractiveness of this corridor is still limited. The World Bank has recently carried out a study to see what is needed to imporve the tarrifs, especially in Georgia and Azerbaijan. Victor Aragones from the World Bank will present these findings.

The academic approach

In line with the trait mark of the event, there will also be specific focus on the latest calculation models. The day concludes with presentations from a series of academic that have deep knowledge of the topic: Stefan Marshnig from the University of Graz, Stephen Matthews of the University of Leeds and Borna Abramovic from the University of Zagreb.

Will we see you there? Visit the website of the event for more information. 

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailTech.com and RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.