11 November 2002 17:26 [Source: ICIS news]MONTE CARLO, Monaco (CNI)--Hopes that investment in the European transport network might be funded without extra taxes on industry were dealt a blow here Monday at the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) logistics meeting*.
John Hugh Rees of the Directorate General for Transport and Energy at the European Commission (EC) said industry must help fund the improvements needed to accommodate the 40% rise in freight movement and 50% increase in road transport predicted by 2010.
“I don't think the public will come up with the money for this; they are more interested in health,” he said. “Passengers vote and freight doesn't and they [passengers] are nationalistic.”
Rees' position will disappoint industry leaders who have argued against extra taxation and what some view as a policy which tries to force transporters off the roads through taxation.
The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) has responded to the EC's white paper for a European transport policy by calling for urgent investment in infrastructure across Europe to be funded via existing taxes. It also wants a shift in rail and inland-waterways to come from the attraction of these modes via financial and service improvements.
Niels von Hombracht, an adviser to Dutch logistics group Vopak and EPCA logistics committee chairman, warned that liberalisation of rail away from state controlled, monopolistic companies – also demanded by Cefic and seen as key to making rail service attractive – is a generation away.
Rees said any charging structure recommended by the EC would reflect the real cost of road use – including infrastructure costs – and would force firms to allocate capacity efficiently. “Industry will have the choice of paying a higher price when travelling in peak periods or a lower price when travelling off peak.”
Another source of investment, said Rees, would come from public-private partnerships for major projects.
Rees said policy proposals contained in the white paper would cut road growth from 50% to 38% and increase rail and short sea shipping by 40%.
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