Railways: Rail deregulation sparks high-speed rows
22 June 2010
"After six months of liberalisation in Europe, battle lines have been drawn in the rail sector": Le Monde explains that since the beginning of 2010, when "the deregulation of rail services became a legal reality," relations between Europe's three principal rail operators, France's SNCF, Italy's Trenitalia and Germany's Deutsche Bahn (DB), have become increasingly hostile. Each of the three has established alliances with the others' main competitors and accusations of protectionism can be heard on every front. SNCF, which has purchased a stake in NTV, Trenitalia's main competitor, is planning to build a high-speed network that will serve nine cities in Italy. Trenitalia has responded by forming an alliance with SNCF's principal rival Veolia Transport, which aims to establish Europe's first private high-speed rail service between Milan, Turin and Paris by 2011. And relations between French and German operators are equally acrimonious. According to the Paris daily, "SNCF and DB, which used to be allied by a shared desire to defend a model of public service threatened by British-style deregulation, are now fighting over a number of markets." Tensions have been raised by the German operator's bid to "break the monopoly enjoyed by the Franco-British Eurostar consortium with a high-speed link to London to open in time for the Olympic games in 2012."