Regulating Transport in Europe

Regulating Transport in Europe

Edited by Mattias Finger and Torben Holvad

This book concerns the regulation of transport within a European context, covering air, inland waterways, rail, road passenger and freight, urban public transport, and short sea shipping. All these sectors have experienced substantial changes over the last two decades, in terms of ownership, competition and liberalisation, and the book explores the main transformations and their impacts. The authors address these issues, with a specific focus on the effects of the organisation and regulation of transport systems on their performance. They also provide timely policy recommendations, including possible European future policy initiatives.

Chapter 3: Rail transport

Chris Nash

Subjects: economics and finance, transport, environment, transport, politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance, urban and regional studies, transport


Rail transport has long been seen as important by the European Union because of its ability to ease road congestion and its low environmental impact compared with road or air, and a major expansion in its market share is seen as an important element of the policies in the new European transport policy White Paper (European Commission, 2011), particularly regarding achievement of its greenhouse gas targets. Up to 1989, the normal approach to delivering rail services within Europe was for a single state-owned company to provide both infrastructure and all services, under the supervision of the relevant ministry, and there was no question of independent external regulation. However, there was great concern that rail was losing market share, particularly in international freight transport, where services were offered by cooperation between national railway companies, each handing over to the next at the border. It was believed that this seriously detracted from quality of service, and that having a single through international operator responsible for the complete transit would make rail more competitive. In that year, the European Commission issued a communication (European Commission, 1989) setting forward anew policy, in which infrastructure would be separated from operations, and operations thrown open to competitive entry.

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