EU Steps Up Efforts to Unify Rail Network

     (CN) – The European Commission furthered efforts to facilitate travel across the 27-member European Union by passing a regulation to standardize fare and timetable data.

     This will allow rail-travel companies in the EU, which are historically nationally dominated, to exchange information for better coordination of cross-border ticketing.
     “We want to make it as easy, in the future, to book a rail ticket from Barcelona to Brussels or Berlin to Bratislava as it is to book a corresponding flight,” commission Vice-President Siim Kallas said in a statement.
     The commission said it is planning an accompanying regulation to standardize IT systems so that companies can exchange the rail information next year, and said 2016 is a realistic target date for applying the integrated system.
     The regulation passed last week is part of a transport plan for all of Europe, in which the EU seeks to integrate travel networks for increased efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
     This includes shifting longer passenger and freight trips from off the highways and onto railways and waterways, the commission says.
     The Council of the EU found in a March review that the European Commission’s funding of rail-infrastructure projects had improved high-speed passenger services since 2000, and encouraged the commission to increase its work on freight lines.
     According 2008 data published by the United States Department of Energy, passenger rail travel is 26 percent more efficient than car travel.

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