The first Railway package
In 1991, the Directive on the development of Community railways (RAI-001) enabled the first liberalisation of some aspects of rail transport. Railway companies were urged to engage in a more competitive market situation. Key elements in the Directive were:
- Sound financial management;
- Control over and reduction of the indebtedness;
- Reform of railway companies to independent enterprises;
- Access to the rail network of other member states;
- Distinction between the operation and the use of the rail infrastructure.
In 1995 and 2001, Directives were adopted that further developed the liberalisation process.
On 30 July 1996, the Commission published a White Paper on ‘a strategy to revitalise the community's railways’ (COM/96/0421 FINAL RAI-002). The White Paper highlights financial issues of railways and the shrinking of their market. Railways were seen to have difficulty adapting to market evolution and to the changing needs of railway users. However, rail had a number of interesting characteristics which could make it a key European transport mode in the future. The White Paper aimed at developing a strategy to revitalise railways in the Community and in particular at making railway companies financially sound again. Moreover, the White Paper aimed to open up the public service market. The White Paper did not only want to integrate the national railway systems, but also to safeguard social aspects.
The second Railway package
In January 2002, the Commission proposed a new set of measures for speeding up the integration of the railway system, the so-called second railway package (RAI-003). Notwithstanding the first railway package, the situation of the railway sector remained alarming. Therefore, the Commission made more concrete proposals to speed up the revival of railway traffic in Europe. This new package contained five new proposals for action to complete the structure that was already provided by earlier community rules. These five actions are:
- Elaborating a common safety concept;
- Ascertaining the interoperability principles;
- Setting up an effective control unit: the European agency for safety and interoperability for railway (the European Railway Agency);
- More profound and faster liberalisation of the railway transport market;
- Joining the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF)
Two years later, in 2004, Parliament and Council reached agreement on the second railway package, which consists of:
- A Directive on the safety of Community railways, amending Directive 95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings and Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification (RAI-004 and RAI-005);
- A Directive amending Council Directive 96/48/EC on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail systems and Directive 2001/16/EC on the interoperability of the trans-European conventional rail system (RAI-006);
- A Regulation establishing a European Railway Agency (RAI-007);
- A Directive amending Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the community's railways ('Directive on market access') (RAI-008).
The third railway package
The European Commission published the third railway package in 2004. In this package, attention was given to the following issues:
- Providing a high quality service;
- Making the freight market railway transport more easily accessible;
- Making freight railway transport more environmentally friendly;
- The gradual development of a rail network for freight transport;
- The gradual opening up of the market for rail passenger transport services;
- The improvement of rail traveller’s rights.
These measures were elaborated not only in a Communication from the European Commission, but also in two Directive proposals and two Regulation proposals. All of that became known as the third railway package. The package in its entirety passed the co-decision procedure and was finally agreed on 22 February 2007 (RAI-009).
Railway system for competitive freight transport
As an element of the EU's freight agenda:, the European Commission published on 18 October 2007 a Communication 'Towards a rail network giving priority to freight'.
In the Communication, the Commission claims that the development of cross-boundary corridors can help to create a European rail network for freight transport. This would complement the already existing ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), where most of the attention is given to the improvement of efficiency. The goal of the corridors is to provide, on the entire length of the corridor, the right infrastructure capacity and to combine this with the implementation of the ERMTS. Indication and implementation demand efforts from infrastructure managers, national authorities and the European Union. The Commission further announced to review the first railway package, by introducing stronger rules.
On 11 December 2008, the European Commission proceeded with a concrete Regulation proposal that would shape the European rail network for competitive freight transport, based on a number of corridors. For each of these freight corridors, the proposed approach is based on a regular market analysis and a regular consultation with the users, the establishment of a working plan with the measures necessary to fulfil their requirements and to guarantee the compliance of the provisions of the proposal for regulation. The infrastructure and terminal managers will be responsible for the execution, with support and guidance from Member States, which are involved in the set-up of freight corridors. In summer 2010, Parliament and Council reached a compromise on the proposal (RAI-010), which aimed to optimise the use of railway network and to ease freight transport by rail on the main international connections. Member States have to determine international corridors for freight transport, which will form a network as to develop a competitive freight transport. The regulation contains a list of nine initial corridors which should start in the next three to five years following the adoption of the Regulation.
In 2013 these initial corridors will be:
- Zeebrugge-Antwerp/Rotterdam-Duisburg- Milan-Genoa corridor;
- Rotterdam-Antwerp-Luxembourg-Metz-Dijon-Lyon/(Basel) corridor;
- Sines-Lisbon/eixões Madrid-Medina del Campo/Bilbao/San Sebastian-Irun-Bordeaux-Paris/Le Havre/MetzSines-Elvas/Algeciras corridor;
- Almeria-Valencia/Madrid-Zaragoza/Barcelona-Marseille-Lyon-Turin-Milan-Verona-Padua/Venice-Trieste/Koper-Ljubljana-Budapest-Zahony (Hungarian-Ukraine Border) corridor;
- Bucharest-Constata-Prague-Vienna/Bratislava-Budapest-Vidin-Sofia-Thessaloniki-Athens corridor;
- Prague-Horni Lidec-Zilina-Kosice-Cierna and Tisou (Slovak-Ukraine border) corridor.
And those in 2015 will be:
- Stockholm-Malmö-Copenhagen-Hamburg-Innsbruck-Verona-Palermo corridor;
- Gdynia-Katowice-Ostrava/Zilina-Bratislava/Vienna/Klagenfurt-Udine-Venice/ Trieste/ Bologna/Ravenna/Graz-Maribor-Ljubljana-Koper/Trieste corridor;
- Bremmerhaven/Rotterdam/Antwerp-Aachen/Berlin-Warsaw-Terespol (Poland-Belarus border)-Kaunas corridor.
The corridors must at least run through three Member States (or at least 2 Member States if the distance between the rail terminals is more than 500 km) and have to correspond to the TEN-T Network, the corridors of the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and the corridors established by RailNetEurope. Each corridor has an executive committee (set up by the concerned Member State) and a management committee (set up by the concerned infrastructure management). The management committee is responsible for the organisation of the corridor, provides a one-stop shop management and handles capacity requests (slots). Moreover, the management committee sets up an advisory group made up of railway undertakings interested in using of the freight corridor.
The recast of the first railway package and preparation of a fourth package
In its Resolution of 17 June 2010, the European Parliament deplored that a majority of Member States (22 out of 25 with a national railway network) had not yet implemented the three Directives of the first railway package. Parliament urged the Commission to introduce a proposal for a revision of the first railway package by September 2010. This proposal would be aimed at the independence of infrastructure managers, the insufficient financial means and the authorities of the regulating bodies.
On 17 September 2010, the European Commission published a proposal for a Directive establishing a Single European Railway Area (RAI-011). The proposal contained the recasting of the first railway package, which would contribute to the development of a European railway market and the promotion of the attractiveness and the increase of the market share of rail transport. Thanks to this proposals, the rules are simplified (by bundling three Directives into one new Directive), clarified (implementation by Member States will be easier) and updated (by scrapping outdated provisions and by adding new provisions that connect better to present market conditions). The proposed recasting of the first railway package involves (a) a correct financing of rail infrastructure and appropriate levies for the use of it, (b) the right conditions for competition in the railway market and (c) the necessary organisational reform to safeguard proper monitoring of the market.
Parliament and Council reached a political agreement on the recast proposal in July 2012 (RAI-012). The recast finally is not as ambitious as Parliament had wished, in particular with regard to the unbundling of infrastructure management and operations. The European Commission has however announced that it will prepare a fourth railway package early 2013, which will pick up the issue of unbundling in the institutional context of the rail market. The package will further deal with the removal of legal barriers to access domestic passenger markets, interoperability and safety.
Some relevant documents:
RAI-012: Opinion of the Commission pursuant to Article 297(7)(c) of the Treaty on the unctioning of the European Union, on the European Parliament’s amendment[s] to the Council’s position regarding the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a single European railway area (Recast) (European Commission)
RAI-011: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a single European railway area (European Commission) – if possible, replace this with the final text of the Directive or the text of the political agreement
RAI-010: Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 concerning a European rail network for competitive freight (European Parliament and the Council)
RAI-009: Directive 2007/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 amending Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community’s railways and Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure (European Parliament and the Council)
RAI-008: Directive 2001/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2001 amending Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community’s railways (European Parliament and the Council)
RAI-007: Regulation (EC) No 881/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 establishing a European Railway Agency (Agency Regulation) (European Parliament and the Council)
RAI-006: Directive 2004/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2001 amending Council Directive 96/48/EC on the interoperability of the trans-Eureopean high-speed rail system and Directive 2001/16/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the interoperability of the trans-European conventional rail system (European Parliament and the Council)
RAI-005: Directive 2001/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2001 on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification (European Parliament and the Council)
RAI-004: Directive 2001/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council pf 26 February 2001 amending Council Directive 95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings (European Parliament and the Council)
RAI-003: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliamant and of the Council amending Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community’s railways (European Commission)
RAI-002: White Paper. A strategy for revitalising the Community’s railways (European Commission)
RAI-001: Consolidated text. Council Directive of 29 July 1991 on the development of the Community’s railways (91/440/EEC) (European Council)