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Rail travel: more competition, better services - 30/01/2013

Two high-speed trains © EU

New proposals to open national rail networks to competition, increase investment and offer travellers more choice and better services.

The European Commission is proposing measures pdf - 91 KB [91 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr) to open national rail networks to more competition. The proposals aim to boost investment and provide travellers with better services.

Not only does rail provides safe, efficient transport at the same time as reducing road traffic congestion, it also increases the EU's energy security whilst reducing its carbon footprint.

However, fewer people are travelling by rail in Europe, and investment to modernise and extend the network is sorely lacking. The EU's rail package is part of its strategy to reverse this decline.

Reducing red tape, cutting costs

The proposals would transfer responsibility for issuing vehicle authorisations and operators’ safety certificates from national governments to the European Rail Agency.

This would speed up approvals, cutting some €500 million in costs to rail operators by 2025 and encouraging new operators to enter the market.

Providing better quality and more choice

The proposed rules would open up all domestic passenger networks to competition – including tenders to manage publicly owned networks.

Combined with other reforms, the proposals would lead to more track being laid to extend the EU’s rail network. Travellers and operators would see €40 billion in benefits by 2035.

Currently, publicly owned networks account for over 90% of EU rail journeys. Only Sweden and the UK have fully open markets. Germany, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands have partially opened theirs.

Improving efficiency

New rules would give independent track managers operational and financial independence from train operators. The proposals would remove potential conflicts of interest and give operators access to all rail networks without discrimination.

Protecting workers

The proposals should lead to new and better jobs – as experienced in EU countries with open, competitive rail networks.

EU rules would allow governments to require new contractors to take on current rail workers when public service contracts are transferred to them.

Next steps

The proposals will go to the European Parliament and EU governments for consideration.

More on EU rail transport policy

More on transport

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