A webinar organised by UIC and FSR (Florence School of Regulation) was held on 10 December to mark the publication of the Handbook on Railway Regulation, Concepts and Practice by Edward Elgar Publishing.
The principal editors, Mr Matthias Finger, Director of FSR Transport at EUI and Mr Juan Montero, Professor at EUI/UNED, attended the online event along with three contributing editors: Professor Fumio Kurosaki, Faculty of International Tourism Management, Toyo University, Mr Russell Pittman, U.S. Department of Justice and Kyiv School of Economics, and Mr Christian Chavanel, UIC Director of Rail System.
The event was moderated by Mr Simon Fletcher, UIC Director Europe.
Mr Finger provided an introduction to the topic, highlighting that the handbook had been written 30 years after the beginning of full market liberalisation. He also recalled that 2021 would be the European Year of Rail and described the history of the train, which had undergone numerous changes since the beginning of the 20th century. The railways had been owned by private firms before being nationalised.
The train had then had to compete with road and air and had been subject to divergent policies in Europe and the USA. Today, the railway sector is facing new challenges and opportunities associated with decarbonisation and digitalisation.
Mr Finger added that broader, more systemic policy and regulatory perspectives were required to secure the future of the railways in the context on modal shift and multimodality. He concluded with an overview of the Handbook on Railway Regulation, which focuses on 14 leaders in large railway countries, examining ten cross-cutting issues, and has been written by internationally-recognised railway experts.
Professor Kurosaki then provided an overview of the characteristics of railway operations and regulation in Japan. He noted that Japan had many private rail companies as well as state-owned railway companies.
Mr Pittman outlined the background to the American rail system up to 1980 and the success story of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980. He said that “Staggers was, overall, a dramatic success, including in reversing rail’s loss of freight share”. Mr Pittman wondered whether the rest of the world should emulate American model.
Mr Montero continued with an overview of regulatory challenges in Europe. One such challenge was the evolution from national networks to a single European network. Highlighting the importance of cross-border systems, Mr Montero noted that it was difficult to construct a single European railway area with 27 infrastructure managers. In addition, there was fierce competition in freight services. Long-distance, cross-border services offered opportunities for development in this low- growth market.
Mr Montero added that passenger services were also characterised by competition. Liberalised markets limited their scope to the main corridors, reducing prices by up to 50% and increasing Service frequency by up to 100%. The public service obligation is 60% of EU rail passenger-km, and competitive tendering is already in place for 41% of services.
Mr Chavanel presented UIC’s organisational structure, with 200 members in 95 countries. He noted that European railways needed to evolve from a classical regulatory framework towards a new architecture for technical regulation. He outlined the objectives of the European sector: integrating major technical breakthroughs, accelerating the cycle of innovation, and transforming railways into the backbone of land-based mobility.
Mr Chavanel explained that an enabler could be provided by setting up a new, four-layer railway system architecture (service, network, transport and physical) for both regulation and standardisation. Benefits could include simplification, innovation, technical modularity, digitalisation and multimodality.
Closing the webinar, Mr François Davenne, UIC Director General, highlighted the importance of an interoperable network and said a few words about the Technical Solutions for the Operational Railway (https://bit.ly/342EItu) recently published by UIC.
To watch the webinar recording, please click here