Amendments to the Act on Transport Services and the Rail Transport Act enter into force on 1 January
The amendments made to the Act on Transport Services and the Rail Transport Act due to the COVID-19 epidemic will enter into force mainly on 1 January 2021. Some of the amendments to the Act on Transport Services are of a technical nature.
The President of the Republic approved the amendments on 30 December 2020.
To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease, the preparedness obligation imposed on holders of a passenger or goods transport licence will be temporarily extended to include smaller operators, such as taxi service providers, and transport operators who have a maximum of 15 buses, vehicles or combinations of vehicles in use on the road. With regard to holders of a goods transport licence, the extension will only apply to those who are also engaged in passenger transport services. The preparedness obligation is conditional.
Providers of passenger transport services must, during the COVID-19 epidemic, notify any changes in public transport services no later than five days before the implementation of the plan, instead of the normal 60 days. In addition, the powers of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency to issue orders on extending the validity of seafarers' certificates will be increased.
The above-mentioned provisions introduced due to the COVID-19 epidemic will remain in force until 30 June 2021.
The other amendments concern the professional qualifications of seafarers, information services in the area of mobility, public procurement, steering the allocation of public transport funding, and the national implementation of the Directive amending the Directives on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation and on the minimum level of training of seafarers.
The amendments to the Rail Transport Act and the related amendments to the Act on Transport Services are due to the implementation regulations issued under the EU's fourth railway package. The amendments clarify the licence requirements. In future, no safety certificate is required in cases where the purpose of moving a vehicle is to transfer it and where the rail network or part of it is closed to other traffic.
With respect to the COVID-19 epidemic, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency is authorised to suspend or restrict rail transport in the event of a serious incident under normal conditions, such as the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19. The amendment is part of an overall effort to prepare for emergencies such as the COVID-19 epidemic in future under the powers conferred by legislation that is applicable under normal conditions, without having to resort to the Emergency Preparedness Act.
Sini Wirén, Director of Unit, tel. +358 40 507 0916 (Act on Transport Services, from 31 December onwards)
Risto Saari, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 40 829 8132 (Rail Transport)