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A single railway network for Europe

A single railway network for Europe



Directive 2012/34/EU establishing a single European railway area

Directive (EU) 2016/2370 on the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and on the governance of the railway infrastructure


It seeks to clarify the legal rules that apply to the EU’s rail sector so as to:

  • increase quality through stimulating competition;
  • strengthen market supervision; and
  • improve conditions for investment in the sector.

The directive merges and repeals the 3 directives from the ‘first railway package’. These concerned:

  • Directive 2001/12/EC on the development of Europe’s railways;
  • Directive 2001/13/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings; and
  • Directive 2001/14/EC on the management of railway infrastructure.

Directive (EU) 2016/2370 amends the Directive (EU) 2012/34 with regard to the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services and the governance of railway infrastructure.


Increased quality through competition

The directive:

  • permits greater transparency as regards the conditions of access to the rail market;
  • improves the access for operators to rail-related services such as
    • railway stations
    • freight terminals and
    • maintenance facilities.

Infrastructure managers*

When infrastructure is operated by railway companies that have historically had a dominant position on the market, it must:

  • be independent in terms of organisation and decision-making; and
  • have separate accounting systems.

Subject to appropriate safeguards being in place to ensure the independence of the infrastructure manager as regards essential functions*, traffic management and maintenance planning, Amending Directive (EU) 2016/2370 allows EU countries to choose between different organisational models. These models range from full structural separation to vertical integration.

Amending Directive (EU) 2016/2370 introduces rules on loans, dividends to railway company owners and financial flows into vertically integrated undertakings. These are designed to prevent the distortion of competition, in particular the risk of cross-subsidisation in integrated structures.

Domestic passenger services

Amending Directive (EU) 2016/2370 ensures that all railway companies have equal access to tracks and stations. However, EU countries may limit the right of access to passenger services between a given place of departure and a given place of destination when one or more public service contracts cover the same route. This is also the case when one or more public service contracts cover an alternative route, if exercising this right were to compromise the economic equilibrium of the contract or contracts in question.

Regulatory control

The directive strengthens the independence of national regulatory bodies that oversee the national rail market. These bodies may impose fines in the case of inappropriate conduct or may carry out audits. Regulatory control is strengthened by means of close cooperation between the regulatory bodies and the national authorities responsible for rail safety and licensing.

Amending Directive (EU) 2016/2370 gives regulatory bodies the power to monitor:

  • traffic management
  • renewal planning and
  • scheduled and unscheduled maintenance works.

Rail financing

The competent public authorities must prepare longer-term investment strategies to offer more stability to the infrastructure manager, in taking investment decisions and in planning works, as well as more certainty to investors, in order to encourage companies to invest in infrastructure modernisation. These strategies should cover a period of at least 5 years and be renewable.

Adoption of implementing and delegated acts

The European Commission has adopted a series of implementing acts that supplement Directive 2012/34/EU. These concern:

In 2017, the Commission adopted Delegated Decision (EU) 2017/2075 replacing Annex VII to Directive 2012/34/EU. This concerns the schedule for the infrastructure capacity allocation process.


Directive 2012/34/EU has applied since 15 December 2012 and had to become law in all EU countries by 16 June 2015.

The application of many of the rules introduced by amending Directive (EU) 2016/2370 will be phased in over a period between 1 January 2019 and 14 December 2020 (see Article 3(2) of the directive).


For more information, see:


Infrastructure manager: any body or firm responsible for operating, maintaining and renewing railway infrastructure on a network, as well as for participating in its development as determined by an EU country as part of its general policy on development and financing of infrastructure.
Essential functions: decision-making concerning:
  • train path allocation, including both defining and assessing the availability and allocation of individual train paths; and
  • infrastructure charging, including determining and collecting charges.


Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 establishing a single European railway area (OJ L 343, 14.12.2012, pp. 32-77)

Successive amendments to Directive 2012/34/EU have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Directive (EU) 2016/2370 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2016 amending Directive 2012/34/EU as regards the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure (OJ L 352, 23.12.2016, pp. 1-17)


Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2177 of 22 November 2017 on access to service facilities and rail-related services (OJ L 307, 23.11.2017, pp. 1-13)

Commission Delegated Decision (EU) 2017/2075 of 4 September 2017 replacing Annex VII to Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a single European railway area (OJ L 295, 14.11.2017, pp. 69-73)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/545 of 7 April 2016 on procedures and criteria concerning framework agreements for the allocation of rail infrastructure capacity (OJ L 94, 8.4.2016, pp. 1-11)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1100 of 7 July 2015 on the reporting obligations of the Member States in the framework of rail market monitoring (OJ L 181, 9.7.2015, pp. 1-26)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/909 of 12 June 2015 on the modalities for the calculation of the cost that is directly incurred as a result of operating the train service (OJ L 148, 13.6.2015, pp. 17-22)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/429 of 13 March 2015 setting out the modalities to be followed for the application of the charging for the cost of noise effects (OJ L 70, 14.3.2015, pp. 36-42)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/171 of 4 February 2015 on certain aspects of the procedure of licensing railway undertakings (OJ L 29, 5.2.2015, pp. 3-10)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/10 of 6 January 2015 on criteria for applicants for rail infrastructure capacity and repealing Implementing Regulation (EU) No 870/2014 (OJ L 3, 7.1.2015, pp. 34-36)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 869/2014 of 11 August 2014 on new rail passenger services (OJ L 239, 12.8.2014, pp. 1-10)

last update 18.02.2019