The European Union is finalizing plans to compel railway companies to split their freight and passenger businesses from track management to ease entrance into the industry for new operators.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive, is set to unveil its latest liberalization program — the so-called “Fourth Railway Package” — in the New Year in a bid to ease the market dominance of state-owned companies in the majority of the EU’s 27 member states.
“Without separation [of train operation and track management], a further opening of the market will not really create more competition,” European Transport Commissioner Slim Kallis said in a press interview last month.
The Commission is facing stiff opposition to the proposed unbundling of rail operations from Germany and France, the EU’s largest freight markets.
The EU liberalized international freight traffic in 2003, followed by the opening of domestic services in 2007, but most markets are still dominated by state-owned operators, such as France’s SNCF, which carries around 80 percent of the nation’s cargo traffic.
Deutsche Bahn accounts for 75 percent of its domestic German cargo market, and the state-owned firm is the leading player in several other EU countries, including the UK, the Netherlands and Spain, following the acquisition of private operators.