MEPs give green light to the rules aimed to clarify competition rules for rail transport

The European Parliament approved a new rule which was previously agreed with the Council which aims to stimulate the supply of international freight and passenger services and to improve their quality. In addition, the new rules have as objective to clarify competition rules for rail transport firms and rail infrastructure managers. Once the new directive has been approved by the Council of Ministers, it will enter into force on the day after its publication.

MEPs adopted in plenary session the compromise text agreed with the Council regarding the clarification of competition rules for rail transport firms and rail infrastructure managers. According to the Commission, these rules (Rail Recast Directive) tackle 3 major problems on the market: strengthening the power of national regulators; improving the framework for investment in rail , and ensuring fair access to rail infrastructure and rail related services. They are a direct response to many complaints from operators in recent years. The provisional agreement on single European railway area directive was reached last June 2012.

The Directives foresees that separate and transparent accounting by rail transport firms and infrastructure managers prevent any illegal transfer of public funds between these entities, even if they belong to the same holding company. MEPs see this as vital to prevent distortions of competition among rail transport firms, along with equal access to train paths and service facilities such as maintenance workshops and stations for all undertakings, public or private. In the event of disputes, independent national rail regulators will ensure that the rules are enforced.

On the other hand, the prices charged for granting train paths will include bonus/malus incentives to reduce noise and equip trains with the European control system (ETCS) for maximum safety. MEPs say that financing contracts drawn up by the public authorities should have a duration of at least five years, to ensure sound planning of rail infrastructure, meeting the needs of the entire sector.