French open access rail entrant Kevin Speed and the national rail provider SNCF Réseau have received another approval on its journey to beginning services. 

The Transport Regulation Authority (ART), the French Government agency that regulates road, rail and aviation, has approved framework agreements on competition grounds. 

“ART considers that [agreements] do not hinder the use of the infrastructure by other operators or transport services,” it said in a statement. 

A key concern of both SNCF and ART is the expansion of new rail providers across the French network, so the Kevin Speed agreements were required to maintain the “open” nature of the infrastructure. 

The two companies requested ART’s opinion on their agreements, the authority said. 

“In this context, the Authority’s office is limited to ensuring that the contractual stipulations are compatible with the maintenance of transparent and equitable access to the network for other railway companies and effective and optimal use of the infrastructure.

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“After analyzing the clauses negotiated between the parties, the ART considers that they do not hinder the use of the network by other operators or transport services. It nevertheless makes recommendations on the content and wording of some of the clauses included in this type of contract, in order to support the parties and future applicants for framework agreements,” the regulator’s statement explained. 

Along with continued transparency, ART recommended the agreements could be strengthened by integrating SNCF 5-year capacity planning with the proposed route and service plans. 

Kevin Speed’s proposals will offer low-cost high-speed services connecting rural areas with major cities, beginning with three services between Paris and Lille, Strasbourg and Lyon