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Workshop Paper / Transport

4th European Rail Transport Regulation Summary: 20 Years of Railway Liberalisation in Europe

Author(s): FINGER Matthias, ROSA Andrea, HOLTERMAN Martin, BRAND-WEINER Ian

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ABSTRACT

The present document summarises the content of the presentations delivered during the 4th European Rail Transport Regulation Forum as well as the ensuing discussion. This report is divided in two sections: summaries of the presentations and the synthesis of the debates.

Presentations were delivered by representatives of all different types of stakeholders, including the European Commission, national regulators and transport companies, as well as by two knowledgeable academics. Each of them has offered his/her view on the key lessons that could be derived from the first 20 years of rail liberalisation in Europe, based on the following initial questions:

  • What degree of competition has emerged and can realistically be expected in the railway sector?
  • Which are the competitors that will realistically exist in Europe in the years to come?
  • What are the likely evolutions of the historical operators? What will be their likely roles given the broad public policy constraints?
  • Which market structures are likely to emerge in the future?

As one might expect, most speakers tended to combine their assessment of the past with their recommendations for the future. With the negotiations over the Recast still in full swing while the European Commission is already getting ready to present its proposals for a 4th Railway Package, several speakers took the opportunity to present wish lists of reforms they thought were desirable or – on the contrary – to be avoided.

Specific issues that came up repeatedly included the question of perspective – whether actors should pay attention to local circumstances or should, to the contrary, take a pan-European intermodal perspective –, financing, and vertical separation. When it came to these latter two points, the discussion reflected the tension between the shared need to make the improvements necessary to make the railway industry ready for the 21st century and the on-going disagreement about which reforms, exactly, would be conducive to meeting that goal.