Chapter 3: Rail 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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