The 4th Railway Package is a set of 6 legislative texts designed to complete the single market for Rail services (Single European Railway Area). Its overarching goal is to revitalise the rail sector and make it more competitive vis-à-vis other modes of transport. It comprises two 'pillars' which have been negotiated largely in parallel:
The 'technical pillar', which was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in April 2016, includes:
- Regulation (EU) 2016/796 on the European Union Agency for Railways and repealing Regulation (EC) n° 881/2004
- Directive (EU) 2016/797 on the interoperability of the rail system within the European Union (Recast of Directive 2008/57/EC)
- Directive (EU) 2016/798 on railway safety (Recast of Directive 2004/49/EC)
The 'market pillar', which was adopted in December 2016, includes:
- Regulation (EU) 2016/2338 amending Regulation (EU) 1370/2007, which deals with the award of public service contracts for domestic passenger transport services by rail ('PSO Regulation')
- Directive 2016/2370/EU amending Directive 2012/34/EU, which deals with the opening of the market of domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure ('Governance Directive')
- Regulation (EU) 2016/2337 repealing Regulation (EEC) 1192/69 on the normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings
The market pillar will complete the process of gradual market opening started with the 1st railway package. It establishes the general right for railway undertakings established in one Member State to operate all types of passenger services everywhere in the EU, lays down rules aimed at improving impartiality in the governance of railway infrastructure and preventing discrimination and introduces the principle of mandatory tendering for public service contracts in rail. Competition in rail passenger service markets will encourage railway operators to become more responsive to customer needs, improve the quality of their services and their cost-effectiveness. The competitive tendering of public service contracts will enable savings of public money. The market pillar is expected to deliver more choice and better quality of rail services for European citizens, these being the overriding objectives.
The technical pillar is designed to boost the competitiveness of the railway sector by significantly reducing costs and administrative burden for railway undertakings wishing to operate across Europe. In particular, it will
- save firms from having to file costly multiple applications in the case of operations beyond one single Member State. ERA will issue vehicle authorizations for placing on the market and safety certificates for railway undertakings, valid throughout the EU. So far, railway undertakings and manufacturers needed to be certified separately by each relevant national safety authority.
- create a "One stop shop" which will act as a single entry point for all such applications, using easy, transparent and consistent procedures.
- ensure that European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) equipment is interoperable.
- reduce the large number of remaining national rules, which create a risk of insufficient transparency and disguised discrimination of new operators.