Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted in favour of the amendments to the fourth railway package, aimed to improve the quality of passenger rail services, as well as reducing fragmentation of the internal market.

The fourth railway package was prsented by the European Commission (EC) in January to contribute to the competitiveness of the rail sector.

Under the drafted rules, national authorities that currently award rail service contracts to a single operator will have to put them out to tender, in a move to provide all operators with access to rail infrastructure.

"Today’s plenary vote is yet another demonstration of the tenacity of the vested national interests."

The amendments adopted include rail service quality improvements, focus on tangible improvements for the passenger, as well as setting up an efficiency and service quality criteria for public service contracts.

The proposed rules also included the need to remove existing administrative and technical barriers.

The European Parliament also failed to agree to the effective independence of the infrastructure manager and financial transparency within vertically integrated structures.

The EC has expressed its disappointment with the European Parliament’s plenary vote on the legislative proposals forming the fourth railway package.

European Commission mobility and transport vice-president Siim Kallas said: "While the EP opens the way for reducing technical obstacles, today’s plenary vote is yet another demonstration of the tenacity of the vested national interests that proved more appealing to MEPs than the balanced and well-reasoned compromises reached in December by the Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN)."