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European rail regulators will be cooperating more closely

Sixteen independent European rail regulators have established IRG-Rail today: the Independent Regulators Group. The rail regulators involved will sign a cooperation agreement. Jaap de Keijzer, member of the Board of the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa), and, as such, responsible for regulation of the Dutch rail network, will sign on behalf of the Netherlands.

Mr. De Keijzer explains: ‘This is an excellent initiative where the European rail regulators will join forces. Our goal is to make seamless travel within Europe possible for all rail companies. This equally applies to new entrants to the rail market, as well as to incumbents. They should be able to run their trains unhindered, not having to deal with technical and administrative problems at every border.’

IRG-Rail can help solve technical and administrative problems when crossing borders. This will stimulate the Dutch economy, which greatly benefits from international transport. The more the Port of Rotterdam grows (once the expansion project Maasvlakte 2 is completed), the greater the importance of having high-quality, borderless rail connections becomes.

Mr. De Keijzer is expecting that real competition in international passenger and freight transport will only gain steam if there is a strong and independent party that can manage discussions. Incumbents have much to lose. Individual member states are primarily interested in their own trade interests. Privatized rail companies want to retain their home markets. Individual regulators differ in strength across Europe. So IRG-Rail could become that strong party.

The Memorandum of Understanding is signed by rail regulators from the Netherlands, Austria, Croatia Denmark, Germany, Estonia, France, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, (the former Yugoslav republic of) Macedonia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Switzerland.