RDG responds to EU agreement on 4th Railway Package

Responding to the agreement by Transport Ministers of EU Member States to the 4th Railway Package, a spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said:

“We support opportunities for Europe to move towards a more liberalised railway where the sector can grow its market share, deliver even greater value and improve services for passenger and freight customers. The liberalisation of the UK’s railway has been a major success, with increases in rail freight and passenger journeys delivering benefits for businesses and taxpayers.

“For these reasons we have been a strong supporter of the principles behind the 4th Railway Package, which seeks to further liberalise the European rail market. We would have liked Member States to agree a greater degree of liberalisation, however we fully support this compromise as a useful step forward, and will continue to engage constructively in this process.”

Notes to editors

Today, the Transport Ministers of EU Member States agreed to take further steps to liberalize the European railway market. The agreement represents a compromise between those countries who wished to see far more ambitious open markets, and those who wished to retain national state-owned structures.

The major change will be to allow operators to run Open Access passenger services within EU countries (a right so far only allowed to international passenger services) provided they do not negatively impact on existing public service contracts.

In addition, the changes should lead to a greater degree of tendering competition for rail passenger contracts, while allowing direct award to continue in certain circumstances. An important issue for the UK was to preserve flexibility for Network Rail and operators to enter into alliances, and this ability appears to have been confirmed, with some restrictions. This is not the end of the legislative process, and a debate will now take place with MEPs in the European Parliament

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