European Parliament Adopts 4th Railway Package

© European Union , 2015 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service Photo: Etienne Ansotte

The European Parliament has adopted improvements to the 4th Railway Package following a debate and vote on 28 April 2016. The measures are intended to reduce time and costs in authorisation and certification in the railway industry and make the European rail industry more competitive.

The liberalisation of the railway passenger market will enable rail companies to operate anywhere in the EU without restrictions. This will be a reality by 2020. More competition will lower ticket prices for passengers, and drive innovation.



David-Maria Sassoli, Italian S&D Member, said:

“The market is now open, even if this happens 20 years after it took place in the aviation sector. I hope this deal will give a strong boost to the European rail sector.”

Increased competition for public service contracts, which will come into force in 2023 are intended to allow public authorities to achieve the best value for money whilst improving services for passengers.

Dutch MEP Wim van de Camp said:

“Direct awarding will still be possible, but only when national authorities can ensure that the services to travellers will improve.”

4th Railway Package Creates Fairer Railway

The Package will end illegal state aid and subsidies; infrastructure managers (often state-owned and run) will be able to grant non-discriminatory access to infrastructure. The measures also provide for better transparency in financial matters.

Finnish MEP Merja Kyllönen said:

“The railway market deal will boost investment in […] rail traffic in Europe, provide better services for travellers and enable swift transition towards greener transportation.”

Most MEPs who took part in the debate spoke in positive terms of the 4th Railway Package. Some MEPs criticised the package as an “ideological policy”, and symptomatic of a “federalist approach”. It was also identified as “a great moment” and an “important proposal that strikes an important balance”.

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