S&Ds back railway modernisation, but not at the expense of workers

S&Ds back railway modernisation, but not at the expense of workers

European railways are in need of urgent modernisation and more competition so they can become a genuine alternative to road transport. While the technical aspects of the railway reform were already voted on a few months ago, today the European Parliament voted on three reports addressing the political aspects.

After three years of difficult negotiations between the Parliament and the member states, today the Socialists and Democrats decided to reject the compromise reached on one of the reports: on the opening of the market for domestic passenger-transport services. During the negotiations, the Council completely dismissed the demand by the European Parliament to ensure the mandatory transfer of staff in case of changing of provider in the public sector.

S&D spokesperson on transport, Ismail Ertug MEP, said:

“This is a very important package for European transport, with six complementary reports that aim to guarantee the competiveness and the long-term survival of the European railway industry.

"However, we could not accept the compromise reached by the EPP rapporteur in the European Parliament and the member states, as it does not adequately protect public-sector workers.

“We regret that the majority in the plenary accepted the compromise without enough guarantees for workers' rights.”

S&D MEP David-Maria Sassoli, who is the author of the report on the Governance Directive, said:

“With the green light of the plenary the railway reform becomes law. Finally, domestic markets will be open to competition and national companies will be able to operate in other countries. The advantages for passengers and businesses will be significant: increased services, new jobs, lower tariffs. We have introduced some new protections for workers in the sector, through the certification of train staff.

"With this reform high-speed rail will be open to competition and compete in a European scheme with aviation, with great advantages in terms of emissions and environmental impact."