In July 1998, the Commission presented three new proposals aimed solely at making existing legislation more effective. On 26 February 2001, the Council adopted the three Directives known as the "rail infrastructure package".
The first railway package adopted in 2001 enabled rail operators to have access to the trans-European network on a non-discriminatory basis. To improve Europe's rail freight options, the Commission proposes the creation of a one-stop-shop to market freeways. It underlines the need to improve the distribution of train paths, establish a tariff structure which reflects relevant costs, reduce delays at borders and introduce quality criteria. The Commission lists the actions to be taken with a view to setting up freeways.
The assessment of the implementation of this package conducted by the European Commission mid 2006 showed that although the practical implementation of its provisions is still ongoing, the effects already visible are encouraging. The relative position of railways towards other transport modes has stabilized, the high level of rail transport safety has been safeguarded and often improved, losses in employment have been partially offset by the creation of jobs in newly established railway undertakings, and the rail traffic performance has been best in countries where the rail freight market had been open for competition relatively early. These results have been confirmed in the Commission's Communication on monitoring development of the rail market of October 2007 that clearly demonstrated that between 2000 and 2005 Member States in which non-incumbent railway undertakings have undertaken the highest market shares achieved significantly better results in terms of rail freight traffic performance than Member States in which the market was still dominated by a monopoly.
Summaries of legislation
Recast of the 1st railway package: DIRECTIVE 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 establishing a single European railway area
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation of the first railway package (COM(2006)189) - ANNEXES (SEC(2006)530)