Transport MEPs back reform of domestic rail services

6 Dec 2016 12:52 PM

Easier access for all rail operators to domestic rail markets should give rail passengers more choice and better quality services under draft rules backed by Transport and Tourism Committee on Monday.

The new rules combine granting access for rail operators to use rail track and stations in EU domestic rail markets and bidding, as a general rule, for public service contracts.

Most domestic rail services across the EU are currently provided under public service contracts, many of which are awarded without a bidding process.

The new rules still need to be endorsed by the full Parliament in December.

Easier access to the market for rail operators should encourage them to provide new passenger services in EU countries’ domestic markets and boost business and investment. It should also boost improvements in service quality and innovation in the sector, which is lagging behind other transport modes in numbers of passengers carried.

Bidding for public service contracts to be phased in

Current rules for directly awarding these contracts to a specific rail operator are to lapse after seven years, leaving competitive tendering as the general rule. Incentives to move to a competitive tendering system even before this date would also be put in place.

Direct award would, however, still be possible, under new and stricter conditions. For example if awarding a contract directly is justified because it would offer better quality of service or cost efficiency, then performance requirements, such as punctuality and frequency of services, quality of rolling stock and transport capacity would be included in the contract, to sharpen the focus on passenger needs.

Member states could also limit a new operator's right of access if a new service would compromise the “economic equilibrium” of an existing public service contract.

Public service operators would also have to comply with applicable obligations in the field of social and labour law established by EU law, national law or collective agreements.


“Open access” to rail infrastructure and safeguards to protect quality of services

Gradual transition to competitive tendering for public services

Information on rail liberalisation in member states and further background on the “4th railway reform” package.