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Liberalisation conference

01 Jun 2001

ON MAY 2 a conference at the European Parliament called, perhaps not unexpectedly, for the liberalisation of Europe's railways. Representatives of Unife, the European Commission's Railway Policy Unit and a number of railway companies attended, in addition to MEPs.

Chairing the event was British Conservative MEP Christopher Beazley who said 'the European Parliament must continue to work with the industry to ensure that policy enables business to deliver for consumers.'

Somewhat unusually, the conference was supported by General Motors. Electro-Motive Division's Director of World Wide Sales Don Riach attended, noting that 'industry and policy makers must work more closely together in order to drive liberalisation forward'. Clearly EMD sees Europe as fertile ground for sale of its JT42CWR diesel-electric locos as a form of motive power that does not suffer from the complications of changing traction power supplies at border crossings. Almost 300 JT42CWR locos are currently running in Europe, the vast majority in Britain where as Class 66 they have been conspicuously successful. A handful of others are at work in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. With several railways looking at motive power to replace ageing main line diesels, the market is promising, although political resistance would have to be overcome for European railways to place large orders with a North American supplier. Meanwhile, we wonder when European suppliers will be given the opportunity to address Congress.