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Parliamentary questions
2 February 2009
E-6777/2008
Answer given by Mr Rehn on behalf of the Commission

The Commission, in close cooperation with the seven partners in the West Balkan region, has reached agreement on a Regional Core Transport Network where indeed Belgrade is the centre of the railway network not only of the region but of entire South East Europe.

At the same time, the Commission is aware that the importance of rail passenger transport has declined in the past years and that coaches and air planes carry a major part of the international passenger transport in that region. For instance, Belgrade central station counts less than 30 departures of regular passenger trains per day, which seems to be due to strong competition by road and air transport. At the same time, rail passenger services have been neglected.

With the Addendum on a Common South East European railway area between the Commission and the seven partners in the West Balkans, the Commission has established a permanent dialogue with the region on rail reform. The objective is to strengthen rail's competitive position in terms of price and service quality.

Through the Railway Working Group, technical assistance projects and different agreements, the Commission aims to establish a legal framework conducive to high quality rail passenger services. This includes the implementation of the regulation(1) on passenger rights and obligations of 2007, which creates incentives to the same end.

The Railway Working Group has made recommendations on reducing waiting times at borders and establishing a financial equilibrium of railway operators. Certain countries in the region have taken first steps in that direction. Managing traffic and train connections is however up to train operators and beyond reach of the Commission.

With the instruments mentioned above including a new Transport Community Treaty with the Western Balkan States, the Commission aims at open access to the infrastructure, and a better quality of service offered at affordable prices.

(1)Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on rail passengers' rights and obligations, OJ L 315, 3.12.2007.

OJ C 316, 23/12/2009
Last updated: 12 February 2009Legal notice