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Revision of EU Directive on certification of train drivers 

The European Commission is revising Directive 2007/59/EC on the certification of train drivers. The aim of the revision is to improve the mobility of train drivers in cross-border transport throughout the EU’s rail network and to facilitate changes to other employers. The focus will be on a common operating language, harmonization of training and the new structure of the operating license and additional certificates. The Commission’s plan to adopt a regulation instead of a directive in the future must be critically assessed.

This legal act cannot be adopted as originally planned in June or July 2023, rather it will be adopted gradually starting in fall 2023. The first legal act is scheduled to be adopted in fall 2023 in the form of primary legislation, followed by secondary legislation (implementing acts).

The main subject of the train drivers’ directive remains the question raised by the Commission and Parliament of the introduction of a Europe-wide (second) operating language and its impact on safety, practicality and costs. The main solution can and must be a holistic approach that takes into account all aspects of communication in railway operations and creates foundations on a scientific basis. DB Group, SNCF and the International Union of Railways (UIC) have shown at the political level and triggered the discussion as to whether and to what extent digital translation tools can provide a solution.

The European Greening Transport Package

By 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from transport are to be reduced by 90% compared with 1990. On July 11, 2023, the European Commission presented a comprehensive package of measures for further greening within European transport. With a direct relevance for rail, it contains proposals for more efficient capacity and traffic management in cross-border rail transport, a revision of the directive on maximum permitted dimensions and weights for road freight traffic and a proposal for a uniform calculation of greenhouse gas emissions from transport. A proposal to revise the Combined Transport Directive is closely linked to the package and is expected to follow at the end of July 2023. The legislative proposals of the Euro­pean Commission will be discussed in the Council and the European Parliament starting September 2023. Given the upcoming institutional changes in 2024 (European elections in June 2024 and the appointment of the new Commission in November 2024), it is expected that the legislative procedure will not be completed during the current EU legislative period. Completion is expected in 2025. Each initiative is outlined below.

Proposal for a regulation on better coordination and management of international rail transport

The aim of the proposed regulation is to improve market-­oriented capacity allocation and operational management in cross-border European rail transport, including crisis and performance management. To this end, the European Com­mis­­­sion is proposing changes such as the fundamental restructuring of the governance of the currently applicable rail freight corridor regulation and the establishment of a European network of infrastructure operators. Even if capac­ity manage­ment is to remain the responsibility of infrastructure operators, the draft regulation contains numerous and fundamental changes to the so-called Recast Directive: the sector project Timetabling Redesign for Smart Capacity Management is, among other things, to be incorporated through specifications on the products offered on the market and embedded in a European Framework for Capacity Management. The multi-network capacity approach defines the framework for ordering cross-border train-paths. Digital tools (digital capacity management) should support the new processes. With its proposal, the European Commission wants to send a clear signal in favor of greater internationalization of rail transport and greater involvement of train operating companies – delegated acts will be announced on a wide range of important issues (including strategic capacity planning). Details on this are still undecided.

Revision of the Weights and Dimensions Directive for road freight transport

The European Commission’s initiative to revise the directive has four objectives:

  • greening of road freight transport,
  • ensuring the free movement of goods and fair conditions for competition in the Single European Market,
  • improving compliance with cross-border traffic regulations, and
  • ensuring and improving road safety.

The revised proposal for a directive focuses on the possibility of non-limited, cross-border use of longer and heavy-duty commercial vehicles based on the European Modular System (EMS), provided they are already registered in the member states. In order to promote zero-emissions vehicles, the dimensions and weights should be allowed to vary – in combined transport by up to 2 t. The Commission’s objective is to phase out the use of heavy-duty commercial vehicles powered by fossil fuels by 2035. In order to strengthen intermodal transport, an increase in the maximum permitted weight will also apply to trucks, trailers and semitrailers. Therefore, based on the Combined Transport Directive, the definitions will be adapted accordingly. In addition, high-cube container transports (height extension by 30 cm) will be allowed. The Commission is following its announcements to allow EMS in cross-border transport. This is a paradigm shift. After all, that the cross-border use of EMS should be subject to conditions is welcome. This must not adversely affect rail transport. It remains to be seen whether the extension of privileges leads to a strengthening of intermodal transport operations.

European Ticketing: legislative proposal for Multimodal Digital Mobility Services

The European Commission has announced a legislative proposal on Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) for September/October 2023, which, for the first time, not only covers data-related aspects of sales (for example relaying of real-time and forecast data) but will also address purely commercial issues. The Commission aims to improve access to existing sales channels and real-time data. In addition, journey continuation in the event of disruptions will be improved.

Currently, DB Group is focusing its international sales even more on Europe based on the Ticketing Roadmap enacted by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) in September 2021. At the heart of the roadmap is the achievement of key rail milestones by 2025 and expansion to multimodal applications by 2030. One of the central building blocks is the Europe-wide implementation of OSDMs (Open Sales and Distribution Models), a common technical interface for connecting the rail and sales sector ticketing systems in Europe.


Revision of the regulation on EU guidelines for the expansion of the Trans-European Transport Network

On December 14, 2021, the European Commission submitted a proposal to revise the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) guidelines. The objective is to set the course for faster completion of the multimodal TEN-T core network in particular by 2030, and the TEN-T comprehensive network by 2050.

The extended TEN-T core network (2022 Integrated Report) will see two new technical infrastructure parameters implemented by 2040. Under the Czech presidency, the “general approach” was adopted at the beginning of December 2022. The new network design proposed by the Commission, with the target horizons of 2030/2040/2050, is essentially confirmed. At the same time, the compromise also sets out less stringent requirements when implementing the TEN-T infrastructure parameters compared with the Commission’s draft. In April 2023, the Transport Committee voted on the draft report. The mandate for the opening of the trilogues was granted at the same time. The compromise negotiations have been ongoing since April 2023. The dossier is expected to be completed during the Belgian EU presidency in the first half of 2024. With the war in Ukraine still ongoing, the European Commission approved a delegated act on July 27, 2022, to modify the TEN-T regulation proposed on December 14, 2021. This provides for changes to the width of the track (focus on new infrastructure, exceptions possible after cost-benefit analyses) to 1,435 mm and submission of a migration plan within two years, the deletion of Russia/Belarus from the indicative TEN-T maps, the downgrading of connections to Russia/Belarus (core network to the overall network) and an extension of four TEN-T corridors (North- Baltic Sea, Baltic -­­­­­­
Black -Aegean Sea, Baltic- Adriatic Sea and Rhine -Danube) in conjunction with solidarity lanes.

On July 11, 2023, the European Commission and the Euro­pean Investment Bank published a study on the European integration of rail systems in Ukraine and Moldova. As a first step toward improving connections between Poland and Ukraine and between Romania and Moldova, the European track gauge should be introduced on the lines to Lviv and Chişinău.

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