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Parliamentary questions
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1 May 2015
Answer given by Ms Bulc on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-002939/2015

Ensuring that citizens living in isolated areas benefit from good access to transport is the responsibility of Member States, who decide, within their budgetary possibilities, the level and quality of transport services they can fund on the basis of public service obligations (PSO). Decisions on the privatisation of railway operations fall also withing the competence of Member States.

The decision to close unprofitable railway lines operated by a State-owned undertaking is therefore closely linked to the transport and budgetary priorities of the national authorities. In a privatised context if there is a gap between what the public authorities are prepared to pay and the minimum compensation which a private operator considers necessary to operate profitably, the relevant transport service could be ceased.

The 4th railway package proposals aim to open national railway markets to competition, without any requirement to privatise. Competitive pressure is expected to make companies leaner, cost-effective and more responsive to customer needs leading to an overall quality improvement. If rail becomes a more attractive transport mode, increased demand will increase the profitability of railway operations, making it possible to offer better services at lower cost for the public authorities. As a result, further closures of lines may be avoided.

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