Provision of Socially Necessary Rail Services
COLE S, O'HIGGINS T, HOLVAD T, Transport Research and Consultancy, University of North London, UK and GOMMERS M, NEI, The Netherlands
Several studies have identified that railways across Europe face problems due to the declining, market share, lack of response to market changes and customers' needs along with and related high subsidy requirements and insufficient managerial independence
Several studies have identified that railways across Europe face problems due to the declining, market share, lack of response to market changes and customers' needs along with and related high subsidy requirements and insufficient managerial independence. The EC White Paper "A Strategy for Revitalising the Community's Railways" concludes that a new kind of railway is needed allowing for more customer oriented services being provided less expensive, more., efficient with less subsidy needed. Already a number of policy initiatives at national and European level are being implemented following the recommendations from the White Paper. This includes the framework for provision of public services. Increasingly, these should be provided through contracts between State and operator, rather than obligations imposed by the State. The key elements in these contracts are planned to be better value for money, more efficient services, with explicit and transparent compensation and limited time contracts. This development is supported through the EC Council Regulation 1893/91 although this regulation allows for continued public service obligations with respect to "..undertakings confined to the operation of urban, suburban and regional services..".
This paper will present the EC fimded project SONERAIL (Fourth Framework), which concerns the role of socially necessary rail services. In particular, this project pertains to those railways which under EC regulations 1191/69 and 1893/91 cannot be provided on a commercial basis and may therefore be financially supported by a Member State. The prime focus of the project has been to provide clarity regarding the definition of soeiaily necessary rail services as well as the evaluation criteria to be used in relation to determine the value generated through the provision of such services. This information is of crucial importance regarding the specification of public service contracts in terms of the future provision and support to loss-making rail services.
The paper is structured as follows. In the rest of section 1 an overview of the SONERAIL project will be given along with appropriate definitions of socially necessary rail services. Section 2 will present the developed evaluation methodology. In section 3 application results will be discussed. Possible future scenarios will be discussed in section 4. Section 5 concludes with final remarks.
Association for European Transport