The economic efficiency of the transport sector relies on organisational and regulatory structures, good relationships between regulators and operators, and also on the consistency of organisation and interconnection between the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) networks. In the future, the strategic organisation and regulation of transport will be largely conditioned by the concepts of interoperability, interconnection and spatial co-ordination. Moreover, transport deregulation will probably increase, making it necessary to determine an optimal balance between market competition and regulation.
SORT-IT aimed to develop policy measures addressing the organisation of the European transport system that promote interoperability and interconnection, economic efficiency and spatial co-ordination.
The main objectives were:
- to identify and assess the impact of deregulation and privatisation of transport infrastructure and operations in the EU and EFTA;
- to determine the optimal balance between market competition and transport regulation;
- to determine appropriate management and organisational structures and performance criteria;
- to identify infrastructure and operating barriers in the EEA and Switzerland that inhibit interoperability and interconnection;
- to consider policy options concerning relationships between regulators and operators and among operators;
- to consider the consistency of organisation and interconnection between the EEA and CIS networks.
- carried out 152 interviews with national government departments and major transport companies covering characteristics such as legislation, type of regulation and organisation, type of ownership, market structure, reasons for perceived barriers to interoperability and interconnection;
- performed an accompanying literature review about the aforementioned characteristics;
- used several models to assess specific aspects of intermodal transport, e.g. costs and productivity, competition, interoperability and demand.
The project made the following findings and recommendations:
- policies of commercialisation and privatisation should continue to be pursued, particularly in air, rail and express coach operations;
- competition should be promoted particularly through extending cabotage and deregulation in inland waterways, rail and express coach operations, and also in input markets, including vehicle leasing, labour and ancillary markets such as baggage handling;
- with respect to urban and regional transport, tendering/franchising should be promoted rather than head-on competition;
- with respect to rail, horizontal and vertical separation should be considered, along with network re-configuration;
- entry barriers need to be reduced with respect to congested air, sea and rail infrastructure possibly through the use of auctioning systems. Entry requirements (vehicle age limits for example) may need to be tightened in the road freight and waterborne freight industries.
SORT-IT concluded that policy priority should be placed on finishing the liberalisation of the European transport market, with emphasis on inland waterways, short sea shipping and passenger road transport. Once the strategic reorganisation of the transport market is consolidated, focus should switch to increasing interoperability, interconnection and intermodality, which have already been widely established for the air and road freight sectors.