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Sectoral social dialogue - Railways

Social partners

Employees' organisations Employers' organisations
European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER)
  European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM)

Social dialogue in this sector covers activities defined by NACE (Rev.2) classes 49.1, 49.2 as well as partially class 52.2:

  • passenger rail transport (including local trains)
  • rail freight transport
  • operation of rail infrastructure

Around 765,000 people work in the EU rail sector (Eurostat, Labour Force Survey, data 2014).  people are employed in the railway sector. Rail accounts for 17% of EU freight transport and 7.4% of land passenger transport (‘EU transport in figures’ 2015, based on 2013 data).

However, on certain routes the share of rail can be much higher (e.g. 66% for freight traffic crossing the Swiss Alps – 'EU transport in figures' 2015).

The issues in the rail sector include:

  • transitioning to a market with competing service providers
  • ageing workforce
  • problems recruiting staff
  • competing with other modes of transport.

EU rail policy is geared towards creating a single European railway area. This includes abolishing technical, administrative and legal obstacles that stop new rail operatings entering the markets. This should improve working conditions in the sector.

Key areas

  • close follow-up on Commission initiatives, such as the
  • attracting new staff and passengers
  • manageing an ageing work-force
  • recruiting younger people
  • improving passenger and staff safety.

The social partners work on joint projects and monitor the implementation of their recommendations and joint agreements.

They carry out a regular member survey on gender diversity in the rail sector – to check the implementation of their recommendation on the integration of women in the railway sector.

They also produced a follow-up report on the Agreement on working conditions of mobile workers assigned to cross-border services.

Activities and meetings

Check the library entries for the rail sector social dialogue committee.

Recent achievements

  • 2015 – Rail Freight – joint declaration
  • 2013/2014 – Guide and joint recommendations on the identification and prevention of psychosocial risks in the railway sector
  • 2013 – Joint opinion and a report on social aspects and on the protection of staff in case of change of railway operator
  • 2012 – WIR - Women In Rail - good practices and implementation guide with regular monitoring
  • 2011-12 – Joint project on insecurity and the feeling of insecurity in rail passenger transport – follow-up to the joint recommendations of the European social partners and a practical guide (2011-12)

Other key achievements

The report ‘The European Sectoral Social Dialogue: an uneven record of achivement?' by Christophe Degryse shows that, of all social dialogue sectors over the period 1978-2013, the rail sector issued the most ‘joint texts’.

They also negotiated 2 agreements which became directives:

Council Directive 2005/47/EC on the working conditions of mobile railway workers assigned to interoperable cross-border services

Train driver's directive (Directive 2007/59/EC).

For an overview of the activities of the committee up until mid-2014 see chapters 1 and 2 of 'Social Dialogue in the Railway Sector in the Western Balkan countries' (available in English, French, German Croatian,  Macedonian and Serbian).