RailCom – new name and new responsibilities

Berne, 30.06.2020 - From 1 July 2020, the Railways Arbitration Commission RACO will be known as the Rail Transport Commission RailCom. The entry into force of the “Rail Infrastructure Organisation (RIO)” bill means that RailCom will acquire additional responsibilities as well as a new name. As a result, RailCom will therefore see an expansion of its supervisory activities as regards non-discriminatory access to the Swiss rail network.

Non-discriminatory access to the rail network – enhancing the powers of the regulatory authority

Railway Reform 1, which entered into effect in 1999, obliged rail transport companies in Switzerland to manage their infrastructure and transport divisions separately from a financial and, in part, organisational point of view. This created a basis for the introduction of free network access, since which time rail infrastructure operators have been obliged to grant all rail companies non-discriminatory access to their rail network. RailCom adjudicates complaints and initiates investigations ex officio if there is reason to suspect that access to the network is being impeded or granted on a non-discriminatory basis. Since mid-2016, the operators of cargo handling facilities combining transport and railway sidings subsidised by the federal government have also had to grant non-discriminatory access and are therefore subject to RailCom supervision.

RailCom’s new responsibilities

The entry into force of the “Rail Infrastructure Organisation (RIO)” bill on 1 July 2020 will further extend RailCom’s remit. In particular, RailCom will acquire new responsibilities in the following areas:

  • Prime contracting: Prime contracting is where the Federal Office of Transport (FOT) transfers the performance of a superordinate task by assigning a mandate to what is known as a prime contractor. The contract setting out this mandate is published. The prime contractor is commissioned to take on the mandate (such as the development of a technical system) on behalf of several companies concerned. It must ensure that it fulfils this mandate in a non-discriminatory manner. If a prime contractor violates the principle of non-discrimination in the performance or exercise of its mandate, the companies affected may submit a complaint to RailCom. As of 1 July 2020, RailCom will adjudicate on such disputes between the companies involved and the prime contractor and may independently conduct investigations ex officio within the framework of its responsibility for market surveillance.
  • Participation rights: From 1 January 2021, infrastructure operators must grant the rail companies and railway sidings concerned the right of participation in the short and medium-term planning of investments on their network. This means that the infrastructure operators are obliged to publish their investment plans periodically and to consult the rail companies and sidings. The infrastructure operators must provide companies wishing to exercise their right of participation with the necessary information on the projects in their investment plans. Rail companies or railway sidings may submit a complaint to RailCom if their right to information and participation is infringed. RailCom is responsible for enforcing the non-discriminatory participation process and may independently initiate ex officio investigations within the framework of its responsibility for market surveillance.
  • Access to the last mile in freight transport by rail: The principle of non-discrimination already applies to access to cargo handling facilities combining transport and railway sidings that are co-financed by the federal government. As of 1 July 2020, this principle will be extended to short-distance haulage, i.e. to serving the last mile. Companies which provide trains, wagons or rakes of wagons between the rail infrastructure and railway sidings or combined cargo handling facilities must provide this service on a non-discriminatory basis. RailCom monitors non-discriminatory short-distance haulage and adjudicates on any complaints lodged in this regard.

RACO to become RailCom 

From 1 July 2020, the Railways Arbitration Commission RACO will be renamed “Rail Transport Commission RailCom”. This independent agency has been active since 1 January 2000 and is based in Bern. Its members are chosen by the Federal Council. RailCom comes under the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) for administrative purposes, as do the regulatory authorities ElCom, ComCom and PostCom.

Address for enquiries

Railways Arbitration Commission RACO
Christoffelgasse 5
3003 Bern

Patrizia Danioth Halter, RACO Chair
Tel. +41 58 467 41 05, info@ske.admin.ch


Rail Transport Commission RailCom