Between 2001 and 2016, four legislative packages were adopted with the aim of gradually opening up rail transport service markets for competition, making national railway systems interoperable and defining appropriate framework conditions for the development of a single European railway area. These include charging and capacity allocation rules, common provisions on licensing of railway undertakings and train driver certification, safety requirements, the creation of the European Agency for railways and rail regulatory bodies in each Member State as well as rail passenger rights.
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".
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.
On 3 March 2004 the Commission adopted its "third rail package" containing measures to revitalise the railways in Europe. This third package should complete the European regulatory framework for the rail sector.
Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 establishing a single European railway area (recast)
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.