1. Austria: The rail freight market has opened up for competition to a bigger extent than the passenger sector, as the market share for all but the principal freight rail undertaking reached 26% in 2016, while on the passenger side it was 11%. For the freight sector, this degree of market opening is modest compared to other EU countries. However, market opening has improved in the Austrian rail sector. In 2010, the market shares of all but the principal railway undertaking were 15% for freight and 5% for passenger transport.
  2. Belgium: The market opening of the railway sector is making progress for the freight sector, but not for passenger transport. Since a reform in 2014, the infrastructure manager Infrabel is separated from the 99% state-owned SNCB/NMBS.
  3. Bulgaria: The rail passenger market has been suffering from a lack of effective competition – due to a lack of competitive tendering for public service contracts and the absence of safeguards against unfair practices. New commercial operators face discrimination in obtaining fair access to rail infrastructure and essential service facilities. Bulgaria does not seem to have implemented regulatory measures which are key for ensuring a competitive level playing field. Such measures would include: a truly independent and adequately staffed regulatory body and an effective separation of accounts between the management of rail infrastructure and the provision of transport services.
  4. Croatia: Despite recent improvements, restrictive regulations and policies still dominate the rail sector. The dominant market position of the existing three state-owned rail companies (HŽ Infrastruktura, HŽ Putnički prijevoz, HŽ Cargo) prevents the development of private rail enterprises in Croatia. For example, HŽ Cargo accounted for around 91% of freight transport in the first three quarters of 2016, while in passenger rail transport the incumbent continues to control 100% of the market. In this latter segment, Croatia does not make use of competitive tendering, but only of direct award to the state-owned incumbent passenger operator. The infrastructure manager HŽ Infrastruktura does not have an asset register which forms the basis of efficient asset management strategies. On the positive side, Croatian ports have lifted a major barrier by publishing complete lists of access conditions and prices of rail-related services.
  5. Czech Republic: Whereas market opening in rail freight transport has made progress, this is not the case for passenger transport. The rail freight market has opened up for competition and the market share for all but the incumbent rail undertakings has risen by 70% between 2012 and 2016. In rail passenger transport, the Czech authorities are gradually introducing competitive tendering procedures of rail public service obligations. Discussions are on-going in Czechia on the future of public service contracting in rail after the current contract attributed directly to the Czech Railways expires in 2019.
  6. Denmark: State-owned Banedanmark is in charge of the vast majority of the network, except for some 500 km of lines controlled by private companies. For freight transport, market access seems to be easier than for rail passenger transport which is entirely under public service contracts. The Danish infrastructure manager is independent in legal, organisational and decisionmaking terms from the railway undertakings. It is organised as a Government agency under the tight control of the Ministry of Transport which also exercises control over the incumbent railway undertaking. In particular on questions concerning track access charges, Denmark tries to restrict the management autonomy of the infrastructure manager to a minimum.
  7. Estonia: As regards the market share of all but principal rail undertakings as an indicator of access to market for new commercial operators, in rail freight Estonia has an average share compared to other EU countries. In passenger rail transport almost all operations are run by a state-owned enterprise since January 2014. This marks a re-nationalisation of the sector after previous market opening
  8. Finland: The national railway company, the state-owned VR Group, has a monopoly on passenger transport. The Finnish Government has announced plans to open up domestic passenger rail traffic to competition in several stages. The intention is that transport services based on the new contracts would be in place throughout the country by June 2026. To ensure access to the market, three state-owned companies would be separated from the VR Group: a rolling stock company, a maintenance company and a real estate company. Due to geographical and historical reasons and due to interoperability (the 1 520 mm track gauge is common to Russia and to the Baltic countries, while the 1 524 mm gauge in Finland is also interoperable with the 1 520 mm gauge), there is significant rail freight traffic between Russia and Finland. The exceptional track gauge is likely to be the main reason for the continuing dominance of VR Group on the freight market. Foreign operators are reluctant to acquire dedicated rolling stock for a market of a limited size. By 2017, the Ministry of transport had granted two licences in addition to that of the VR Group for rail freight transport.
  9. France: The French domestic rail passenger market remains closed. The legal monopoly of Stateowned incumbent SNCF must disappear in 2019 (when the 4th Railway Package takes effect). There is an on-going reflection on a change in the management of passenger stations, which is currently entrusted to the incumbent SNCF and has been identified as an obstacle to market opening by the regulatory body
  10. Germany: There is no organisational and decision-making independence of DB Netz from the Deutsche Bahn (DB) holding. The holding exerts full management control over DB Netz, as for the other subsidiaries. In addition, DB Netz has to transfer its profits to the holding. Competition in the markets for passenger and freight transport in Germany is continuing to develop slowly. Market shares of the incumbent DB still show monopolistic structures: 99% in long distance passenger transport, about 80% in regional passenger and about two thirds in freight traffic. DB will keep this dominance if no measures are taken. The development of long distance coach traffic shows the market need for alternatives to the incumbent in long distance rail services.
  11. Greece: The state-owned railway company TRAINOSE has been privatised and was 100% taken over by the Italian Ferrovie Dello Stato in 2016. Ferrovie is expected to increase commercial transport links as well as passenger transport and has already raised EUR 1 billion funding to proceed with investments and upgrade the network. These commercial transport links are expected to further increase following the arrival of two new rail freight carriers, Rail Cargo Logistics Goldair SA and Piraeus Europe Asia Rail Logistics (Pearl) SA. However, further liberalisation and increase of rail's modal share remains a big challenge for Greece.
  12. Hungary: Despite passenger transport being open to new entrants, domestic rail passenger transport is not fully liberalised in Hungary. While the rail freight market has opened up for competition, in passenger transport the market share of competitors to the incumbent was at 3-3.5% in 2016. There seems to be no intention to fully separate the infrastructure manager from the rail passenger transport operator. The politically sensitive preferential tariff system providing discounts to a great proportion of passengers in an untargeted way has been maintained.
  13. Ireland: Rail services in Ireland are provided by Iarnród Éireann (which is the only operator). Most routes in the Republic radiate from Dublin. Total length of rail lines in use as of 2016 is 1 894 km. Ireland has a very low density of rail compared to other EU countries and the majority of Irish rail travel is fuelled by diesel, with a Dublin commute line (DART) being the one exception.
  14. Italy: At the legislative level, the rail market is already open to competition in Italy. However, competition is still limited, with the notable exception of the high speed rail segment. The entrenched position of the railway incumbent makes market entry difficult. The Italian national railway company Ferrovie dello Stato SpA is organised as a holding that controls both the infrastructure manager (RFI) and the incumbent operator (Trenitalia) which has a very high market share in both passenger and freight transport. Italian law allows regions to freely tender their public service contracts, but very few have done so. Moreover, some legal restrictions to competition remain, such as licence requirements.
  15. Latvia: In Latvia, the infrastructure manager is separate from the rail service operators. The domestic markets for freight and passenger rail transport are open for competition, but only a few operators are active on the Latvian market. For many companies, the difference in track gauges represents an obstacle to market access. Freight traffic is dominated by transit cargo from Russia and Belarus (as well as from countries further afield) to the three main ports of the country. Latvia’s high railway-share of tonne-km in freight transport is mainly due to high transit volumes.
  16. Lithuania: Obstacles to the efficient functioning of the internal rail market persist, and competition in the rail sector is limited despite an, in theory, opened rail market. Lithuania needs to strengthen the efforts to use open tenders in awarding public services contracts in rail, if it wants to find new rail passenger market entrants. Rail (freight) traffic is largely dominated by EastWest flows, while the North-South axis is underdeveloped.
  17. Luxembourg: Next to running passenger and freight trains, the national rail operator Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer luxembourgeois (CFL) is also entrusted with the role of infrastructure manager. Luxembourg is one of the countries where an integrated infrastructure manager works alongside an independent body in charge of capacity allocation. The Institut Luxembourgeois de Régulation (ILR) is the independent national regulatory body for the railway sector. Its job is to ensure that there is no discrimination between railway undertakings and that there is effective competition in the network. Any applicant wishing to do so may bring a matter before the ILR if it considers to have been unfairly treated, discriminated against or has suffered from any other prejudice. Whereas international train connections are generally operated by foreign rail companies, the CFL controls 100% of the domestic traffic.
  18. Netherlands: For passenger transport, NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) holds an exclusive concession for passenger transport on the main network. Regional passenger services are managed by the regional authorities. Rail freight operations are 100% liberalised, and of the 21 rail freight companies in operation in 2016, DB Cargo had the biggest market share (55 %). Rail infrastructure and maintenance is financed by the Government and managed by ProRail, a company that is 100% owned by the state.
  19. Poland: The liberalisation process in the Polish rail market started with the Railway Transport Act in 1997 under which for the first time licensed operators were authorised to provide railway services on the Polish network. In addition, the Act provided for the obligation of separate accounting of railway and infrastructure operations.
  20. Portugal: The rail freight market has opened up for competition to a greater extent than the passenger sector, as the market share for all but the principal freight rail undertakings reached 15.4% in 2015, while on the passenger side it was 8.3%.
  21. Romania: The administrative capacity of the Romanian Railway Reform Authority (AFER), established in 2016, and of state railway infrastructure manager CFR SA remains insufficient, notably with regard to the management of public tenders, and the planning, coordination and supervision of infrastructure projects. The passenger rail sector remains dominated by a few players: the railway infrastructure manager, CFR SA and the main operator of rail passenger transport, CFR Calatori SA. In 2014, the market share of all but the main rail passenger undertaking was 9.1 % (no data available for 2016).
  22. Slovenia: No major competition is present in neither the freight nor the passenger sectors of the Slovenian rail market. The freight market is dominated by a state-owned company (88%) and there is no separation between infrastructure manager and transport operator. Awarding of public service contracts is still done via direct award. There are doubts about the administrative capacity of the regulator, although progress was made by merging the railway regulator with the independent regulator for communications
  23. Slovakia: The market opening of the Slovak railway sector is relatively advanced for freight transport. Yet, in the passenger transport segment, market opening still needs to be fostered further, despite the progress made since 2012.
  24. Spain: The market share of the incumbent operator – RENFE – has dropped to slightly above 70% in 2016 in the freight market, while it remained at 100% in the passenger market. The opening of the passenger rail market has now been postponed until 2020. On the freight market, new operators are emerging very slowly, mainly because the amount of rolling stock for lease is very limited.
  25. Sweden: The railway undertaking is privatised for both passengers and freight traffic with around 40 operators so far. Sweden currently does not have a high-speed rail network.
  26. United Kingdom: The United Kingdom implemented the most far reaching structural reform of railways in the mid 1990’s by entirely privatising the sector. Rail freight was privatised and rail passenger transport was tendered to the market in up to 15 year franchises. Unlike the vast majority of passenger rail services where private companies run services under a time limited franchised arrangement to a Department for Transport specification, rail freight is a commercial service provision by private freight train operating companies for private freight customers, sometimes through an intermediary logistics service provider.

New Rules

According to the new rules, railway companies will be able to offer their services for domestic rail routes in a more innovative, integrated and attractive way for the EU citizens. In particular:

  • Competitive tendering for public service will become the rule as from 2023. Contracts open to all EU rail operators should gradually become the standard procedure for selecting service providers. Better focus on customer services and cost efficiency are expected
  • Each company can offer commercial services on the European markets for rail passenger transport, as from December 2020. European train companies will be able either ro set up commercial activities to compete with other operators in other countries or to bid for public-service contracts that are awarded by governments on lines that are not profitable. Member states could still restrict the new operator's right of access to certain lines and an objective economic analysis by the national regulator is insured. Commercially viable lines, usually high-speed networks, will be open to competition from 2020. The majority of lines subject to public-service contracts will be liberalised 10 years. Today, the majority of domestic rail lines, over 90 percent according to the Commission, are operated under public-service contracts. Countries often directly award rail contracts to the local incumbent, which is either compensated or granted exclusive rights on the line.

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