ALLRAIL event: Breakfast debate on the language requirements in the upcoming Train Drivers’ Directive at the EU Parliament
Speakers included Barbara Thaler, Kristian Schmidt (EU Commission’s Directorate-General’s Director of Land Transport), Nick Brooks (Secretary General of ALLRAIL), Erich Forster (President of ALLRAIL), Conor Feighan (Secretary General of ERFA), Dirk Stahl (President of ERFA) and Alejandro Martinez Treceno (Secretary General ALE – the trade union of train drivers).

Barbara Thaler (Member of the EU Parliament), with the collaboration of ALLRAIL and ERFA (lobby association of rail freight operators), hosted a breakfast debate on the language requirements in the upcoming Train Drivers’ Directive at the EU Parliament in Brussels.

Under existing rules, drivers are required to have a B1 knowledge of the national language on the network they are operating upon. This requirement has been developed to ensure that there is sufficient ability for train drivers and infrastructure managers to communicate with one another. The cost of this, however, is that the possibility of international rail traffic is curtailed due to changing rules at national borders.

A continued fragmentation of national requirements will undermine rail’s ability to grow international traffic. It will also make it increasingly difficult for operators who operate international services to attract the necessary staff due to language requirements and the possibility of delays and train handovers, making working schedules unreliable.

It is therefore essential that the European Parliament and Council proactively work towards a language regime that does not introduce additional burdens on train drivers active in national traffic whilst also introducing a system that reflects the international nature of cross border traffic.

The EU Commission’s representative said that it intends to introduce English as an additional language, while giving the possibility to rail operators and infrastructure managers where and when it would be offered. In addition, the EU Commission also intends to review level requirements and to introduce the measure gradually, in order to ease potential financial burdens

ERFA and ALLRAIL issued a joint press release.