The 4th railway package aims to remove the remaining barriers to the creation of a single European rail area. The proposed legislation would reform the EU's rail sector by encouraging competition and innovation in domestic passenger markets. It would also implement structural and technical reforms. The end result should be higher levels of safety, interoperability and reliability in the European rail network.
The package consists of 6 legislative proposals from the Commission.
The 4th railway package supports the EU's new TEN-T policy, launched on 1 January 2014. It sets out 9 core transport network corridors across the EU which aim to:
The European rail network is currently quite fragmented. Different member states use different safety standards and technical systems. Cross-border train services, for example, have to get safety authorisation from several different national authorities and deal with several different signalling systems. This makes it complicated and expensive for new rail operators and new technical equipment to enter the rail market.
By removing the remaining barriers to the single European rail area, the proposed 4th railway package will help create a more competitive rail sector, with better connections between the EU and its neighbouring countries.
The changes would also help the EU meet targets for reduced emissions and encourage increased use of rail transport, as outlined in the Commission's 2011 Transport White Paper.
Proposals under the 4th railway package have four main aims:
The legislation to tackle these issues covers technical proposals, and governance and market opening proposals.
The technical pillar covers updates to three existing pieces of legislation:
The governance and market opening pillars cover amendments to two existing pieces of legislation and the repeal of a further piece of legislation:
The 6 proposals under the 4th railway package will be negotiated and adopted through the ordinary legislative procedure. The Council therefore co-legislates with the European Parliament.
The Council has already adopted its position at first reading on the three proposals under the technical pillar on 10 December 2015. The European Parliament now needs to formally approve them at second reading.
At the TTE meeting on 8 October 2015, the Council agreed on a general approach on the governance and market opening proposals. The Council is currently in trilogue negotiations with the European Parliament.