More than 70 percent of EU citizens believe that increased competition via private enterprise will improve rail services, found a recent Eurobarometer survey on rail services in Europe. the survey also revealed that Romanians and Bulgarians are the EU’s least satisfied with their national railways.
Only 23 percent of Romanians questioned said they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with rail services, the second lowest percentage in the EU, ahead of only Bulgaria’s 19 percent satisfaction rate. The results are particularly pertinent to Romania with rail privatizations due to be carried out. Romania is expected to make a decision on railways company CFR Marfa’s privatization strategy sometime this week.
The survey found that 38 percent of Romanian were ‘not very satisfied’ with rail services, second to Italy (42 percent) and ahead of Bulgaria (37 percent). For ‘not at all satisfied,’ the most negative option available, Romania topped the EU, with 22 percent, ahead of Bulgaria (21 percent) and Italy (19 percent). At the other end of the spectrum were Finland, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which all recorded 60 percent plus satisfaction ratings. At a regional level, greater dissatisfaction was found in central and south eastern Europe.
The survey found some negative correlation between overall satisfaction and enthusiasm for increased competition in rail services. Generally, the happier people were with the railways, the less they favored increased competition, but there were plenty exceptions, with a majority of respondents in favor of increased competition in some countries with high approval ratings of the rail services. In Romania, 68 percent of those surveyed favored opening railways up to greater competition, slightly below the 71 percent EU average.
Overall less than half of European (46 percent) are satisfied with their railways. The majority (60 percent plus) believe that opening railway services to competition will improve ticket prices, the punctuality, frequency, comfort and cleanliness of trains, as well as the number of stations served. Also, 70 percent of EU citizens would like budget no frills services, similar to those offered by the budget airlines and 65 percent want more ways of buying tickets, for example on line or via smart phones.
Liam Lever, firstname.lastname@example.org
photo source: Corina Chirileasa