Today the Commission has adopted rules to create fair conditions for new train services making better use of the available rail infrastructure.
Throughout the EU, rail service markets are characterised by dominant operators, which in some cases have close ties with infrastructure managers. Railway undertakings can block infrastructure for many years by way of framework agreements with infrastructure managers. In such a situation, the new rules will give better chances to operators that provide new services to get access to particular important lines thereby creating new opportunities for employment and investment. In consequence, this will render the rail market more competitive allowing business to better adapt to the changing needs of shippers and passengers.
Commissioner Bulc said “Today’s adoption is a step in the right direction in order to make railways more efficient in Europe. The new framework agreements will give new entrants a better and fairer access to the rail infrastructure, offering them additional visibility and thereby fostering investments. These new agreements will also optimise the use of the rail infrastructure in Europe.”
Interested companies will be informed about the remaining capacity and the opportunity to conclude such contracts. The Commission’s implementing regulation provides common criteria for concluding and modifying such agreements in case of conflicting capacity requests. Infrastructure managers should regularly see with their clients if they still need a specific capacity, whereas the duration of such agreements can be as long as five years or more. Where more than one manager is concerned with a train run, they are supposed to remain in contact to protect the value of a framework agreement for the train operator.
The rules will apply from December 2016 onwards. In the coming weeks, EU negotiators are expected to finalise discussions on the 4th Railway Package, which aims to also make railways more responsive to market and consumer demands.