by Domenic Strazzabosco and Emma Sennels
Train passengers through Norway are set to experience delays Thursday, October 31 as station employees continue to strike and protest the implementation of a new railway package designed to create a single market throughout the European Union.
The new regulations being protested, called the Fourth Railway Package, will open opportunities for private businesses to invest in national stretches of Norwegian rail.
“We wish to have autonomy over the train network for the sake of future generations. Norway will lose authority over the area which the EU will take control over,” says Jane Brekkhus Sæthre, leader of the Norwegian federation of railways to the Danish newspaper, Arbejderen.
The goal of the package is to make train travel faster and more efficient by centralizing the certification and authorization of railroads. This is one element in creating a single European rail network.
Train companies and employees are protesting the package, claiming it will erode their democratic abilIty to independently operate their systems.
Maurizio Casteletti, the Head of Unit for the Single European Rail Area, dismissed the Norwegian protestors motivations calling them unjustifiable.
“The process happens in tandem with the European Union and the national authorities. There is no loss of sovereignty,” he said, explaining it would only affect the international railroads within the country.
Though Norway is not a member of the union, they are required to follow protocol because of their membership within the European Economic Area, which ensures the country’s participation and benefits from the free movement of services, goods and people.