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Workshop Paper / Transport

5th European Rail Transport Regulation Summary: Further Steps in Railway Liberalization

Author(s): FINGER Matthias, BRAND-WEINER Ian, HOLTERMAN Martin, RUSSO Antonio

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The present document summarises the content of the presentations delivered during the 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 many different types of stakeholders, including transport authorities, operators, associations of stakeholders, other relevant actors, as well as by knowledgeable academics. Each of them offered his/her view on the state, challenges and future of railway liberalisation, based on the following initial questions formulated by the organisers:

  • What will competition look like in the short, medium and long run?
  • Will there be competition at all?
  • If desirable, how can and will it be promoted?
  • How can and will it be enforced?
  • And what role will regulators play in the short, medium and long run in promoting and enforcing such competition?

The railway sector is living important moments: the European Commission has just released the Recast of the First Railway Package, the first decisions of the European Court of Justice concerning various infringements are about to be released, and we are awaiting the Fourth Railway Package. In this light, the stakeholders of the European railway sector were eager to know how liberalization would evolve. Especially, they wanted to know which form competition will take. Needless to say that the evolving market structure will in turn significantly determine how regulation will look like in the future.


A major focus of the forum’s discussion was the optimal legal framework (governance model) and what it should look like. In short, all stakeholders saw a need for change in the legislative framework, in order to improve the quality and functioning of the system. Competition was seen as a way to reach this goal. However, legislation in Europe cannot be completely uniform, as this would either fail to answer the individual needs of each country or harm already well-functioning systems.