David Briginshaw was at the event to hear what Lochman had to say.
LIBOR Lochman believes there are three prerequisites to ensure success for railways: adequate investment, a level playing field between modes, and for railways themselves to become more efficient.
"Everything begins with good infrastructure," Lochman told delegates, but as he admitted this lesson has yet to be learned, with the proportion of gross domestic product invested in transport infrastructure in Europe falling from 2-3% four decades ago to just 1% today.
As a result Lochman urged for a rebalancing of investment between road and rail across the European Union (EU). He said this has already happened in the 15 older member states in the west of the EU, where about of 30% of transport infrastructure spending goes into rail, which Lochman says is satisfactory, but in the new member states in central and eastern Europe it is about 17% for rail compared with 83% for road. "This is a challenge which needs to be addressed," he said.
Lochman said having sufficient capacity and good quality infrastructure is essential in order for rail to provide high quality services and to remain competitive. "We must address the lack of capacity," he declared. "Adequate and reliable public funding for rail infrastructure should be ensured through multi-annual contracts."
In order to have sufficient funds to maintain the network, Lochman believes rail users should pay adequate track access charges, but says that this will only work if there are sufficient operators on the network, so there must be an alignment between what it costs to use the road and rail networks, so that rail is competitive with road.
Nevertheless, progress is being made at the European level with the TEN-T programme where EU member states are legally bound to take appropriate measures to complete the core network of nine corridors by December 31 2030. "Co-financing for transport infrastructure by the EU will triple to €26bn for the 2014-2020 period, with 75-80% for rail," Lochman said. "We will have 94 main ports and 28 key airports with rail connections, and 15,000km of lines upgraded for high speed."
But Lochman says this is not enough on its own. "We need to have a level playing field across the transport modes, something which doesn't exist today. We lack common principles for user charging for track access. We lack internalisation of external costs, with the result that the cost of damage to the environment is not internalised. We lack common principles for taxation. For example, air transport doesn't pay VAT or fuel taxes, whereas rail is penalised through CO2 charges on electricity. Social standards are dramatically different: the rail unions are very strong whereas road transport unions are weaker. Rail workers may demand higher pay, but who will pay for this?"
Measures to reduce rail infrastructure charges or introduce road tolls have had a positive effect on railfreight traffic in Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
However, Lochman said many countries still lacked well functioning railway regulators which act independently from national operators to ensure fair competition by ensuring that train paths are allocated equitably and infrastructure charges are levied fairly.
He listed eight policy recommendations which he would like to see enacted. These are:
• ensure adequate and reliable public funding of rail infrastructure
• align road and rail infrastructure charges
• use road tolls at least partially to develop environmentally-friendly transport alternatives
• apply the polluter pays principle
• harmonise social rules
• include sustainable urban mobility in spatial, urban and industrial planning
• direct research funding to improve door-to-door journey times, safety and reliability, and
• encourage the development of rail connections to industrial sites, private sidings, feeder lines, and freight stations.
Lochman also believes that railways must up their game, pointing out that it is unacceptable for 17% of freight trains in Europe to be more than one hour late. "Railways must be price competitive, but they also have to deliver," Lochman told delegates. "Reliability is vital."
Finally, Lochman said that railways must champion the cause in their own countries and called for more lobbying in favour of rail at the national level. "If you stay in Brussels you would think you are in railway nirvana where everyone is committed to rail, but it is not so at the member state level."