On 23 January 2002, the European Commission proposed a new set of measures (known as the "second railway package") aimed at revitalising the railways through the rapid construction of an integrated European railway area. The actions presented are based on the guidelines of the transport White Paper and are aimed at improved safety , interoperability and opening up of the rail freight market. The Commission had also proposed establishing a European Railway Agency responsible for providing technical support for the safety and interoperability work.
The second railway package of 2004 has accelerated the liberalization of rail freight services by fully opening the rail freight market to competition as from 1 January 2007. In addition, the package created the European Railway Agency situated in Valenciennes (France), introduced common procedures for accident investigation and established Safety Authorities in each Member State.
European Railway Agency
The European Railway Agency is a driving force in the policy for modernising the European railway sector. Mutually incompatible technical and security regulations in the twenty-five Member States (Malta and Cyprus do not have railways) are a major handicap to the development of the railway sector. The Agency will work to gradually align technical regulations and establish common safety objectives which all Europe's railways must achieve.
Summaries of legislation
Directive 2004/49/EC of 29 April 2004 on safety on the Community's railways and amending Council Directive 95/18/CE on the licensing of railway undertakings and Directive 2001/14/CE on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification
Directive 2004/50/EC of 29 April 2004 amending Council Directive 96/48/EC on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system and Directive 2001/16/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the interoperability of the trans-European conventional rail system