Noise Related Rail Access Charges in Europe: Aspects of Interoperability and Competitiveness
Noise reduction of rail transport in Europe is an important step toward enhancing quality of life. According to the estimation of the European Environment Agency 14 million people are affected by rail noise in the European Union. Since the 1990s numerous measures have been taken by legislators but in practice noise levels did not lowered significantly. The changing regulations and upgraded standards have direct costs on rail freight transport and it is affecting its competitiveness. Some key countries in the European rail freight transport – Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands – have already introduced Noise Differentiated Track Access Charges (NDTAC), which makes higher noise traffic more expensive, and encourages wagon owners to invest in low noise braking systems. Railway undertakings will face higher costs either due to higher network access charges or due to higher costs of low noise braking system. The higher costs will affect the competitiveness of rail freight transport compared to other modes of transport. Furthermore, the diverse regulation of European countries will restrict the interoperability and selective funding favors local corporations and can reduce competition. The aim of this paper is to show the possible effects of the current NDTAC regulation on the European rail freight market.