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Parliamentary questions
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4 November 2015
Answer given by Ms Vestager on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: P-012980/2015

In general, it is the choice of Member States whether to operate passenger rail routes in their territory using publicly owned operators or to put those routes out to tender as a concession or a public service contract. This choice would still apply when the routes in question have previously been run by the private sector operators whose contracts have expired.

Rail operators who are either fully or partially publicly owned by a Member State may bid to operate rail services on the same basis as privately owned operators, without this as such conflicting with state aid rules.

In accordance with Article 5(6) of Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007(1), the competent authority awarding the public service contract may decide, unless it is prohibited by national law, to make direct awards of public service contracts where they concern transport by rail, with the exception of other track-based modes such as metro or tramways.

For this reason, the competent authority may, depending on national law, at the end of the franchise directly grant a new franchise as a concession or a public service contract to a partially or wholly state-owned company as long as the concession or the public service contract fulfils the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007.

(1)OJ L 315, 3.12.2007, p. 1.

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