Single EU Railway Gets a Boost From Lawmakers

     (CN) – The EU Council and Parliament said they have reached an agreement on language that will create a single European railway system.
     The result of three-way negotiations between the two legislative bodies and the Danish presidency is part of ongoing efforts to unify the rail networks of member states into a single Europe-wide transit system.
     Three directives passed in 2001 launched “a gradual opening-up of the railway sector to competition at a European level,” according to a joint statement released Tuesday.
     “The purpose of the recast is to simplify, clarify and modernize the regulatory framework for Europe’s railway sector so as to increase competition, strengthen market supervision and improve conditions for investment in the sector,” legislators said.
     To increase competition between rail companies, the new law proposes increased transparency in access conditions.
     Aiming to improve the ability of operators to use rail-related services like stations, terminals and maintenance facilities, the law will require that rail companies and rail services be independent from each other.
     National regulators will also be independent, and the new directive will enhance their powers to impose sanctions and conduct audits. Cooperation between regulators on cross-border issues will also be improved to help “eliminate discriminatory obstacles to access to rail services and ensure the proper functioning of the rail services market,” lawmakers said.
     Longer-term planning will improve rail-infrastructure funding and give investors more certainty, the legislative bodies added. They also plan to adopt “charging rules,” including noise-emissions reduction, as an incentive for infrastructure modernization.
     The draft received the support of a member-state committee and next heads to a full Parliament vote scheduled for early July. The full council will make its decision after the vote in Parliament.
     If passed, member states will have 30 months to transpose the directive into their national laws, lawmakers said.

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