Report of webinar 16/10 2020

60 people had timely registered and between 38 and 41 took part.

Mr Nino Zambara of DGMOVE gave a presentation on what the European Commission was doing, or planned to do on the European Green Deal and its relevance to rail matters. He has agreed to provide a slightly shortened version of his presentation for our website. See here.

For us as passengers it was very helpful to have a summary of initiatives on ticketing and the revision of guidelines for the Trans European Network; assembling initiatives to support the European Year of Rail and taking forward a new study, proposed by the European Parliament, on

CROSS BORDER LONG DISTANCE PASSENGER TRAINS, INCLUDING NIGHT TRAINS.

This study will include easy ticketing, availability of stock, access charges, overcoming technical operational barriers, allocating infrastructure capacity and, where necessary, the role of the Public Service Obligation in such services.  It will last 9 months and should start before the end of 2020.

At this stage we can feed in other issues which are important to us.

That is something we shall consider.

Already Joachim Holstein has raised the refusal of the German Government to subsidise international night trains passing through Germany (e.g. Malmo – Hamburg – Brussels). Joachim will liaise with Peter Cornelius (PROBAHN) who will write to Mr Zambara and ask him to look into the regulations and possibilities.

DGMOVE is currently assessing a number of bids from consultants to undertake the study. It should be complete by the summer or early autumn of 2021, when an (on-line) conference will be organised to present the results.

From Back-on-Track side, participants suggested a number of other questions  that should also be investigated, including night trains along high speed lines; mixed passenger and freight overnight trains; a possible role for Interrail; a new generation of rolling stock; consultation with passengers and the need for fair competition  between legacy and new entrant operators. The scope for rail to take a significant number of passengers from airlines was also raised.

It was suggested that international night trains might run as open access in one EU Member State and under Public Service Obligation in another.

The fact that night trains tended to arrive in the morning peak for commuters was sometimes used as a reason to discontinue them; but Joachim’s research in Hamburg showed that this was not such a problem as some people claimed.

Mr Zambara agreed that some of these issued could indeed be investigated; but local circumstances and past experiences could sometimes affect policy.

We thanked him for his presentation and his participation in discussion. Notes by Trevor Garrod