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Rail passengers' rights and obligations in the EU

25-11-2020

In 2007, the EU established a set of basic rights for rail passengers, which became applicable at the end of 2009. These rights provide for all passengers, including those with reduced mobility, a harmonised minimum level of protection, information and assistance. Recent reports have concluded that the implementation of these rights, although relatively smooth, is not done uniformly across the EU. Moreover, other shortcomings have prevented these rights from being used to their full potential. In ...

In 2007, the EU established a set of basic rights for rail passengers, which became applicable at the end of 2009. These rights provide for all passengers, including those with reduced mobility, a harmonised minimum level of protection, information and assistance. Recent reports have concluded that the implementation of these rights, although relatively smooth, is not done uniformly across the EU. Moreover, other shortcomings have prevented these rights from being used to their full potential. In September 2017, the European Commission presented a new proposal to address these shortcomings and to strike a new balance between keeping rail operators competitive and providing adequate passenger protection. The European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism adopted its report on the proposal on 9 October 2018 and, subsequently, the Parliament adopted its first-reading position on 15 November 2018. For its part, the Council adopted its general approach on 2 December 2019, under the Finnish Presidency. Interinstitutional negotiations began at the end of January 2020, and on 1 October 2020, under the Germany Presidency, Council and Parliament reached a provisional agreement. The agreed text must still be formally adopted by Council before it returns to Parliament for adoption at second reading. Fifth edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Plenary round-up – Brussels, September 2020

18-09-2020

The September 2020 plenary session was the sixth conducted with Members participating remotely, using the alternative voting procedure put in place in March by Parliament's Bureau, although a majority were again present in Brussels. As well as the Commission President's traditional State of the Union address, Parliament held a joint debate on the risk of breach of the rule of law and LGBTI-free zones in Poland. Parliament also debated European Commission statements on the preparation of the special ...

The September 2020 plenary session was the sixth conducted with Members participating remotely, using the alternative voting procedure put in place in March by Parliament's Bureau, although a majority were again present in Brussels. As well as the Commission President's traditional State of the Union address, Parliament held a joint debate on the risk of breach of the rule of law and LGBTI-free zones in Poland. Parliament also debated European Commission statements on the preparation of the special European Council focusing on Turkey's actions in the eastern Mediterranean, on the consequences for the single market of EU coordination of sanitary measures in the ongoing pandemic, on combatting sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and on the need for a humanitarian EU response to the situation in the Moria refugee camp. Parliament also debated statements from the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell, on the situation in Belarus, in Lebanon and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Parliament also voted on legislative proposals and resolutions, including on arms exports, the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU Association Agreement with Georgia, protecting world forests, EU-African security cooperation in the Sahel, type approval of motor vehicles and the importance of urban and green infrastructure.

Measures for a sustainable rail market in view of the coronavirus pandemic

10-09-2020

Rail plays a major role in the EU economy and labour market: as of the end of 2016, railways employed roughly one million people. Moreover, by contributing to more sustainable and environmentally friendly transport, rail is critical to achieving the objectives of the Green Deal. The coronavirus outbreak had an adverse impact on domestic and international passenger and freight rail, and could also have negative financial consequences on all rail stakeholders and for the EU rail market structure. During ...

Rail plays a major role in the EU economy and labour market: as of the end of 2016, railways employed roughly one million people. Moreover, by contributing to more sustainable and environmentally friendly transport, rail is critical to achieving the objectives of the Green Deal. The coronavirus outbreak had an adverse impact on domestic and international passenger and freight rail, and could also have negative financial consequences on all rail stakeholders and for the EU rail market structure. During the September plenary session, Parliament is expected to vote under the urgent procedure on a legislative proposal to mitigate the consequences of the Covid 19 crisis on rail through temporary relief measures.

Electronic freight transport information

24-08-2020

The movement of goods in the European Union has increased by almost 25 % over the last 20 years, and this growth is projected to continue. A large amount of information accompanies this movement, exchanged mostly in paper format. Yet the digitalisation of information exchange could make the transport of goods much more efficient and reliable, and yield significant savings. As one way to speed up the digitalisation of freight transport, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on ...

The movement of goods in the European Union has increased by almost 25 % over the last 20 years, and this growth is projected to continue. A large amount of information accompanies this movement, exchanged mostly in paper format. Yet the digitalisation of information exchange could make the transport of goods much more efficient and reliable, and yield significant savings. As one way to speed up the digitalisation of freight transport, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on electronic freight transport information on 17 May 2018. The aim of this regulation is to provide for a fully digital and harmonised environment for information exchanges between transport operators and authorities. The legislative proposal is part of the Commission's third 'Europe on the Move' package, which is designed to complete its agenda for the modernisation of mobility. The European Parliament adopted its position on the proposal on 12 March 2019. The Council, on its side, reached a general approach on this proposal on 6 June 2019. The Council and Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the proposal on 26 November 2019. The Council adopted the text at first reading on 7 April 2020, and the Parliament approved it at second reading on 8 July. The final act was published in the Official Journal on 31 July 2020. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Road and rail transport and coronavirus: Mapping the way out of the crisis

27-07-2020

In the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis, the lockdown and border closures halted most passenger services in road and rail transport and left road hauliers to face uncertainty and very long waiting times at many border crossings. With the pandemic easing, some passenger services resumed in certain EU countries from late April onward, and with the introduction of 'green lanes' the situation at border crossings stabilised allowing smoother passage for road hauliers. Nonetheless, the initial estimates ...

In the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis, the lockdown and border closures halted most passenger services in road and rail transport and left road hauliers to face uncertainty and very long waiting times at many border crossings. With the pandemic easing, some passenger services resumed in certain EU countries from late April onward, and with the introduction of 'green lanes' the situation at border crossings stabilised allowing smoother passage for road hauliers. Nonetheless, the initial estimates of the costs to the transport sector are immense and the impact is expected to continue well beyond 2020. The EU took a number of steps in the early stages of the crisis to alleviate the situation and to provide relief to the transport sector. As the situation progressed, the European Commission introduced further measures to help coordinate the exit from confinement and safely restart transport services. The Commission has also tabled a European recovery plan with a number of new instruments, which will allow the provision of assistance to key sectors, including the transport sector. The European Council reached a political agreement on the recovery fund on 21 July. To support their economies, EU governments have introduced a number of economy-wide measures, but also sector-specific measures, including for transport and tourism, as well as support for individual transport companies. The Commission has further enabled governments to use State aid to help firms in difficulty by putting in place a temporary framework for State aid.

European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS): An EU industrial programme to raise railway competitiveness

17-12-2019

In recent decades, the European Union has been promoting rail as one of the main pillars of its transport decarbonisation policy. This is likely to be even more the case with the European Green Deal and the ambitious emission reduction targets proposed recently by the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. However, in order to contribute effectively to the decarbonisation of transport, railways must offer a harmonious, efficient, fast and safe service. Whereas over time the ...

In recent decades, the European Union has been promoting rail as one of the main pillars of its transport decarbonisation policy. This is likely to be even more the case with the European Green Deal and the ambitious emission reduction targets proposed recently by the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. However, in order to contribute effectively to the decarbonisation of transport, railways must offer a harmonious, efficient, fast and safe service. Whereas over time the EU Member States had each developed their own railway signalling systems, the EU launched an industrial project to develop and deploy a single control, command and signalling system, known as the European rail traffic management system (ERTMS). The aim was to improve rail technical compatibility, efficiency and competitiveness. Since the late 1990s, the EU has been working on a regulatory framework, technical standards and ERTMS deployment plans. Given the scale of investment required, the EU has also allocated funding to the project through the Connecting Europe Facility and the EU structural and investments funds. ERTMS deployment is also supported by the active involvement of EU rail operators, infrastructure managers and the supply industry and the first commercial lines using ERTMS were opened in 2005. Although it offers benefits to both the rail sector and passengers, ERTMS still faces challenges, the greatest being low and patchy development, insufficient funding and coordination between Member States and slow migration from national legacy systems to ERTMS. Recent announcements of ERTMS full-scale deployment plans and commitments in Europe could be read as a sign that ERTMS is increasingly perceived as a top priority.

European Union Agency for Railways

29-10-2019

Established in 2004, and based in Valenciennes (France), the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) was set up to build a Single European Railway Area (SERA) and to make rail more effective and competitive. To contribute to these goals, ERA is tasked with enhancing technical compatibility and safety across EU rail systems. The EU's adoption of the technical component of the Fourth Railway Package in April 2016 has expanded ERA's powers, making the Agency a key player in rail security and interoperability ...

Established in 2004, and based in Valenciennes (France), the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) was set up to build a Single European Railway Area (SERA) and to make rail more effective and competitive. To contribute to these goals, ERA is tasked with enhancing technical compatibility and safety across EU rail systems. The EU's adoption of the technical component of the Fourth Railway Package in April 2016 has expanded ERA's powers, making the Agency a key player in rail security and interoperability.

'Shift to Rail' – Research for the EU rail sector

09-09-2019

Rail is one of the main pillars of the EU transport decarbonisation strategy, and research is instrumental to achieving more competitive and resource-efficient railways. To this end, an EU public-private partnership, the ‘Shift to Rail’ Joint Undertaking, was established in 2014 under the Horizon 2020 programme to boost and coordinate research and innovation in rail products, processes and services. The first projects were launched in 2015 and the first results presented in 2018.

Rail is one of the main pillars of the EU transport decarbonisation strategy, and research is instrumental to achieving more competitive and resource-efficient railways. To this end, an EU public-private partnership, the ‘Shift to Rail’ Joint Undertaking, was established in 2014 under the Horizon 2020 programme to boost and coordinate research and innovation in rail products, processes and services. The first projects were launched in 2015 and the first results presented in 2018.

Artificial intelligence in transport: Current and future developments, opportunities and challenges

27-03-2019

Artificial intelligence is changing the transport sector. From helping cars, trains, ships and aeroplanes to function autonomously, to making traffic flows smoother, it is already applied in numerous transport fields. Beyond making our lives easier, it can help to make all transport modes safer, cleaner, smarter and more efficient. Artificial intelligence-led autonomous transport could for instance help to reduce the human errors that are involved in many traffic accidents. However, with these opportunities ...

Artificial intelligence is changing the transport sector. From helping cars, trains, ships and aeroplanes to function autonomously, to making traffic flows smoother, it is already applied in numerous transport fields. Beyond making our lives easier, it can help to make all transport modes safer, cleaner, smarter and more efficient. Artificial intelligence-led autonomous transport could for instance help to reduce the human errors that are involved in many traffic accidents. However, with these opportunities come real challenges, including unintended consequences and misuse such as cyber-attacks and biased decisions about transport. There are also ramifications for employment, and ethical questions regarding liability for the decisions taken by artificial intelligence in the place of humans. The EU is taking steps to adapt its regulatory framework to these developments, so that it supports innovation while at the same time ensuring respect for fundamental values and rights. The measures already taken include general strategies on artificial intelligence and rules that support the technologies enabling the application of artificial intelligence in transport. In addition, the EU provides financial support, in particular for research.

Digitalisation in railway transport: A lever to improve rail competitiveness

20-02-2019

Since the 1990s, digitalisation has been advancing at speed across all industrial sectors, public entities and society at large; and railways are no exception. Digital technologies already govern rail customers' expectations, ticket reservation and purchasing habits, operators' information and payments systems, but experts believe these technologies have much more to offer the sector. Digitalisation is key to industry competitiveness and has therefore become an EU priority. The EU has been forging ...

Since the 1990s, digitalisation has been advancing at speed across all industrial sectors, public entities and society at large; and railways are no exception. Digital technologies already govern rail customers' expectations, ticket reservation and purchasing habits, operators' information and payments systems, but experts believe these technologies have much more to offer the sector. Digitalisation is key to industry competitiveness and has therefore become an EU priority. The EU has been forging a cross-policy approach and programmes to ensure a solid policy framework, finance research and infrastructure, develop standards and connectivity, and use data effectively. This should enable rail actors to capture digitalisation's potential, improve their efficiency and serve their customers better. The European Parliament has been contributing to this policy. Rail companies have already implemented a vast array of new services and applications using digital technologies, be it for providing more information and leisure services on board, improving the monitoring of their assets or automating more operations. The changes introduced by digitalisation in rail transport are perceived by many stakeholders as an opportunity – owing to the benefits it can offer – but also as a challenge. Indeed, it will require a change of mindsets and business models. Rail digitalisation will also require financial investment and a strategy to tackle cyber threats. Addressing these challenges will allow digitalisation to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the railway sector.

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EPRS online policy roundtable with the World Bank: Where next for the global economy
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Hearing on Co-management of EU fisheries at local level
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