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Introduction: Is the 4th Railway Package in trouble?

11 April 2014  •  Author(s): James Abbott, Technical Editor, European Railway Review

Railway liberalisation in the European Union took a big step backwards in February when the European Parliament threw out the Governance Section of the 4th Railway Package – built on earlier EU legislation requiring state railways to be split into infrastructure and operating units. The new section looked for total separation of an infrastructure manager from all operators. If that was not possible, it would have instead required strong Chinese walls to prevent hidden subsidies or confidential information passing between the two, or transfers of staff.

The Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee approved the 4th Railway Package on 17 December 2013, but this was insufficient to protect the Governance Section when it came to the floor of the main house. Rather than push it through, the Parliament accepted amend – ments promoted by the Community of European Railways (CER) to preserve the status quo.

Big state railways had been lobbying hard and it had been widely thought that the French and Germans might act in the European Council to prevent the Governance Section from coming into force, but in the end it never got that far. The Parliament killed it first.

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