Railway: Parliament to insist on opening up of freight and passenger services

On 9 September, the Parliament’s committee for transport discussed its position for the second reading on the Second Railway Package.

On 9 September, the Parliament’s committee for transport discussed the points of disagreement between the Council and the Parliament during its the second reading of the Second Railway Package.

Development of the Community railways

By requesting a full market opening for both freight as well as passenger transport during its first reading, the European Parliament went further than the initial proposal of the Commission. Rapporteur Georg Jarzembowski recommends the Parliament to stick to the deadline of 1 January 2006 for the the opening up of international and national freight services and cross-border passenger services.

As the Council did not set a date for the opening up of passenger services and wants a new Commission proposal to open up the networks to passenger services, the rapporteur is proposing an early conciliation procedure with the Council so as to enable the Parliament and the Council to reach an agreement before the end of the parliamentary term.

European Railway agency

Rapporteur Gilles Savary deplores the fact that the Council wants representatives from every Member State in the board arguing that with a view to enlargement this is not a feasible option. He proposes that there should be six Council representatives.

Railway safety

Rapporteur Dirk Sterckx expresses some doubts about the Common position on Railway safety. Many of the Parliament’s amendments (on communication, black boxes and market access) have not been taken into account by the Council. The Council enables Member States to continue to develop their own (more stringent) safety rules, whereas Parliament expressed itself in favour of a European approach.


By 2008 European railways will be integrated into a single network. To achieve this aim it will be necessary to develop the interoperability of the Trans-European rail system. Rapporteur Mrs. Ainardi is concerned about certain points from first reading that have not been taken on board in the Common position, notably the amendments related to the costs of interoperability.


The Second Railway Package consists of 5 legislative proposals:

  • The Railway Safety Directive
  • Amendments to the Interoperability Directives, progressively extending scope to the whole network
  • Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Railway Agency
  • Proposal for Community accession to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF)
  • Amendments to complete liberalisation of the freight market.

During the first reading, Parliament and Council differed on the deadlines for the liberalisation of national freight services and passenger services. To see the deadlines proposed by the different institutions, see

EURACTIV 31 March 2003.


  • 30 September 2003: vote in RETT committee
  • 20-23 October 2003: vote in plenary session of the European Parliament
  • Following the vote in the Parliament, the Transport Council will do its second reading.


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