- Charging principles and levels
- Working timetable period and deadlines
- Notification requirements
- Complete documentation
- Overview of the deadlines
Infrastructure managers are responsible for drawing up a track access pricing system. Certain deadlines and other formal requirements must be met before the system may be applied.
Charging principles and levels
By differentiating between charging principles and charging levels the legislator has made it possible to retain the basic rules and methods for setting the prices (charging principles) over longer periods of time whereas the levels of charges need to be adjusted once a year. Infrastructure managers’ charging principles are published in the network statement. The actual charges are published in the list of charges which is purposely not part of the network statement.
Information about the price setting criteria is part of the charging principles, the principles being a mandatory component of the network statement. The intention is to explain the methodology on which the charges are based to applicants. Details of the charging scheme, the services associated with the access, further charge components such as a charge reflecting the scarcity of capacity and a possible environmental element are provided. The aim is to make it possible to calculate in advance the charges payable for the use planned with the help of the list of charges. Publishing the charging principles will also enable applicants to understand the considerations underpinning the charging scheme. The performance scheme must be described and any changes – implemented or planned – must be indicated (Annex 2 subpara 2 of the Rail Infrastructure Usage Regulations (EIBV)).
By incorporating the charging principles in the network statement, revisions or modification of the charging principles will automatically take place when the network statement is being revised or modified, due consideration being given to the mode of procedure. The list of charges sets out the exact level of the track access charges and all other charges raised by the infrastructure manager.
Working timetable period and deadlines
The charges for access to the tracks remain valid for the entire working timetable period (Section 21(7) sentence 2 of the Rail Infrastructure Usage Regulations (EIBV)).
Any modification of the charging principles necessitates a revision or modification of the network statement. The infrastructure manager must publish the planned amendments or new version of the statement at least six months prior to the expiry of the deadline for requests for the annual timetable. Applicants then have four weeks in which to submit their comments after which the Bundesnetzagentur is informed (see below). The final version of the network statement must be published at least four months prior to the expiry of the deadline for requests for the annual timetable.
The track access charges (list of charges) may be set without that the applicants had the possibility to give comments. They are also communicated to the Bundesnetzagentur (see below). The list of charges must be published at least one month prior to the beginning of the period for requests for the annual timetable (Section 21(7) sentence 1 of the Usage Regulations).
If publication is legally required, then this must be done in the Federal Gazette (www.bundesanzeiger.de). As an alternative, publication in the Internet is also acceptable. In this case the URL must be published in the Federal Gazette. Section 4(1) of the Rail Infrastructure Usage Regulations (EIBV) applies.
Establishing charging principles and defining the levels of charges triggers a requirement to notify the Bundesnetzagentur (Section 14d sentence 1 subpara 6 of the General Railway Act (AEG)). It should be noted that any modification of the charging principles when revising or modifying the network statement, and the setting of the levels of charges (track access charges in the list of charges) need to be notified to the Bundesnetzagentur in advance.
In both cases the Bundesnetzagentur is entitled to a four-week review period. The agency may object to projected modifications within this period if infringements of relevant railway legislation are identified. The charging principles or track access charges may not enter into force prior to expiry of the objection period (Section 14e(2) subpara 2 of the General Railway Act).
The charging principles have to be notified after the applicants had the possibility to give comments and ahead of the deadline for final publication of the network statement. Any comments received must accompany the notification. The infrastructure manager must also explain the extent to which the comments received from applicants led to alterations being made to the original wording of the network statement. These alterations must be marked. The network statement enters into force at the end of the period for requests for the annual time table. This implies that the track access pricing system will be applied to the tracks to be made available in the allocation process for the next working timetable period.
When planning new track access charges, the Bundesnetzagentur's opposition period and the publication deadline (one month prior to the start of the track access request period) must be borne in mind. If the notification is received too late by the Bundesnetzagentur, it will not be possible to publish the rail route price list in time and the charges will therefore only come into effect a year later.
The infrastructure manager must also ensure that the notification sent to the Bundesnetzagentur is complete. The four-week objection period will not begin unless this is the case. A notification is deemed complete when all the requirements set out in Section 14d sentence 1 subpara 6 of the General Railway Act are met and the Bundesnetzagentur can start its review immediately. This will only be the case when the notification is accompanied by information about the level of the charges (list of charges) and the explanation required under Section 14d sentence 3 of the General Railway Act.
To meet this criterion, the infrastructure manager must provide data about the planned revenues, the volumes on which they are based, and expected costs. It is also necessary to indicate whether a mark-up will be applied and how this will be done, and the infrastructure manager’s assessment of the competitive situation of the various user groups (market segments). Infrastructure managers must initiate an annual notification to the Bundesnetzagentur.
Overview of the deadlines
Railway legislation lays down deadlines for public consultation and publication requirements. Since in practice it is not always clear that the procedure entails a number of consecutive steps, hence leading to longer lead times, an overview of the deadlines is given below, based on an assumed request for the annual timetable in March/April.
- Charging principles: as part of the network statement, the charging principles must be published for public consultation by the applicants at least six months prior to expiry of the period for requests for the annual timetable (approx. at the beginning of October of the previous year). At the end of the consultation period, the Bundesnetzagentur must be notified (approx. November of the previous year). The agency is entitled to a four-week review period. The final network statement is published after this period (approx. beginning of December).
- Level of the charges: the list of charges must be published one month before the start of the period for requests for the annual timetable (approx. beginning of February). The publication must be preceded by notification of the Bundesnetzagentur and a four-week review period (approx. beginning of January). Since the Bundesnetzagentur's objection period cannot be shortened, care should be taken to ensure that the notification is made on time.
- Application of the charging scheme: the track access pricing system comes into effect with the change of the working timetable (second Saturday in December at 12 midnight) and remains valid until the change of working timetable in the next year.
Exact calculation of the deadlines should be based on the regulations in the General Railway Act and Rail Infrastructure Usage Regulations. The Bundesnetzagentur may also be contacted for the deadlines currently applicable.
Date of modification: 2014.02.03