European Parliament approves amended Fourth Railway Package

MEPs have voted through amendments to the Fourth Railway Package, drawing concerns from public transport bodies around Europe.

Prior to the┬áTransport and Tourism Committee’s meeting yesterday (December 17) UITP, EPTO and EMTA had all expressed concerns about how numerous compromise amendments would affect the legislation’s central aim of improving competition across Europe.

UITP has said that some of the amendments could weaken the regulation’s “legal security” and its central aim of opening up closed markets to new entrants.

One of the amendments highlighted by the association will allow public service contracts to continue to be directly awarded in certain situations without being required to go through a competitive tendering process.

Speaking after the vote, UITP’s Thomas Avanzata said: “First of all, UITP is happy with the fact that the process goes on because obviously UITP is more in favour of progressive opening of railway markets. But we have huge concerns with some of the amendments, the compromise amendments, that have been adopted in [the] transport committee this morning.

“First concern is that legal security could be jeopardized by some of these amendments, and second concern is the fact that UITP’s position was that the revision of regulation on the public transport services was to be limited to what was strictly necessary to open up railway markets.”

The committee also approved the package’s ‘technical pillar’ which over a four-year transition period will take away the responsibility of certification from national safety authorities and create a single safety certificate issued by the European Railway Agency.

As expected, the legislation is also moving away from demanding a complete separation of infrastructure managers and operators, allowing members to opt for an integrated structure with a single holding company governed by stricter requirements for financial transparency.

The European Parliament has said it expects to vote in plenary on the package in February 2014.