The European Parliament has backed new rules that require public contracts to supply domestic passenger rail services in EU countries to be put out to tender.
These rules are aimed at increasing investment and development of new rail services. The new rules require rail companies to be able to offer their services in EU domestic passenger rail markets in two ways.
Initially, in cases where national authorities award public service contracts to provide passenger rail services, bidding for such contract, which is open to all rail operators in EU, should gradually become the standard procedure to select service providers.
These contracts account for around two thirds of passenger rail services in the EU.
Authorities will also retain the right to award contracts directly, without bidding. However, contracts awarded directly would have to include performance requirements.
Such an award would be allowed for public service contracts below a certain average annual value or for providing public passenger transport services by rail every year.
Secondly, any EU rail company would be able compete with commercial services on passenger railways in member countries.
Under the new rules, potential conflicts of interest need to be evaluated to ensure that infrastructure managers operate impartially, enabling operators to have uniform access to tracks and stations.
Rail companies will be able to offer new commercial services on domestic lines from 14 December 2020.
Image: Introducing public tenders should encourage railway operators to become more responsive to customer needs and improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of services. Photo: © AP Images/European Union-EP.