SHORTLY before Europe’s environment and transport ministers convened in Chester in April, the European Commission issued a discussion document on open access. The latest proposals emanating from Brussels envisage that Europe’s railways must offer 5% of the rail freight market to new entrants, with this proportion rising in stages over 10 years to perhaps 25%.

A more refined proposal is likely to be put to a meeting of the transport and environment ministers this month in Luxembourg. The idea is that new entrants would have an automatic right to a percentage of network capacity, but precisely how this would be measured, let alone implemented, is far from clear. We await enlightenment. o