Parliament and Council confirmed on 21 June that they had reached a conciliation agreement on the third railway package.
The main elements of the deal are:
- International passenger rail services will be opened up to competition as of 1st January 2010. Within two years of that date, the Commission will have to re-assess the situation to see whether liberalisation of domestic services – as had been demanded by MEPs and certain member states, such as the UK, Germany and Italy – should be envisaged. France, Belgium and Luxembourg had led the opposition to allowing other member states to carry out services within their territory.
- All rail passengers, both on international and domestic journeys, will enjoy a set of basic rights, such as company liability for luggage and the right for people with reduced mobility to be transported, as of 2009, when the Directive enters into force. Extended rights, including compensation for travellers of up to 50% in case of delays, will at first be limited to cross-border services. Member states will be able to exclude other services from these provisions for up to 15 years and urban and regional services may be granted an indefinite exemption.
- All train drivers will have to hold a certificate recognising that they meet minimum requirements in terms of medical fitness, basic education and general professional skills. The aim is to enhance safety on European railways, while facilitating professional mobility and cross-border services. Other crew members will not be subject to such a licensing system, but MEPs obtained that the Commission must look into this further within one year of the Directive's implementation and, if necessary, present a new proposal to include other train staff performing safety-critical tasks.