4th Railway Package: Single European Railway Area (Directive)

In order to increase competition in the rail transport sector the European Commission proposes to open the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and provide for a more strict separation between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings. For this, infrastructure managers and railway undertakings must be fundamentally legally distinct. Infrastructure managers that are part of a vertically integrated undertaking (VIU), when the proposed amendment comes into force, may, under strict conditions, be exempt from this requirement of institutional separation.


The fact that a Member State may refuse to allow a foreign VIU access to its home market runs counter to the objective of the Directive of realising the Single European Railway Area. The provision whereby a Member State may refuse market access where there is a possibility of market distortions in its home market, even if a railway company has complied with all the requirements laid down in the Directive, is in breach of the requirement of clarity and the principle of legal certainty.