On June 3, a number of railway workers’ unions called for recurring one-day strikes, starting on June 10, to protest against the reform of the French railway sector that comes before Parliament in the next few days. The member companies of AFRA note that this reform will substantially strengthen the hand of the incumbent operator. The French railway sector will revert to its pre-1997 organisation. The infrastructure manager, RFF, with an additional 50,000 employees belonging to the SNCF, will once again be under the responsibility of the incumbent operator.
These strikes threaten the revival of rail freight in France.
AFRA urges the unions and railway workers to adopt a responsible attitude so as not to jeopardise the rail freight sector.
Over the past eight years, new entrants on the market have injected fresh dynamism into rail freight. Although the domestic market contracted by 1.3% in 2013, volumes moved by the new operators were up by 16.2%, thanks to their diversified offerings. The modal share of freight carried by rail increased by 1% between 2010 and 2012, to reach 10.4%. In addition, according to data released by EPSF (French Railway Safety Authority) and ERA (European Railway Agency), the safety of rail freight has considerably improved over the past few years.
It must also be remembered that the recurrent strikes in 2010 severely curtailed rail traffic, thereby depriving the railway sector of several percentage points of growth.
By way of example, the movement of goods between France and Spain was sharply reduced because of the closure of the rail border for several months. Several large customers, like the German automotive companies, decided to shift the transport of spare parts from rail to road. For the new entrants, the shortfall in revenue attributable to theses strikes has been put at several tens of thousands of euros.
During a period of rail traffic disruption, AFRA considers that all efforts should be made to maintain the flow of rail freight and demands service continuity during strikes by the introduction of alternative solutions.
This is only way that rail freight will remain competitive against its only competitor, road haulage.
AFRA currently has the following railway companies with a freight business among its members: Colas Rail, EuroCargoRail, ETF Services, Europorte France, OSR France, Trenitalia, T3M.
Contact: Jacques Malécot,
AFRA Chief Executive.
Tel: + (33) 1 45 26 28 27 or +(33) 6 27 22 83 44
Find out more at: www.assorail.fr