Heated debates and possibly even something of a revolution in the organisation of Europe's railways may be on the horizon: the European Parliament could demand the full separation of infrastructure operators from incumbent rail companies. The European Commission went to pains to avoid this subject in its draft recast of the first railway package, considering it too controversial. MEPs could nevertheless add it to the text with their first-reading report (co-decision procedure). This is apparently the intention of the working draft - which has not been made public yet - by rapporteur Debora Serracchiani (S&D, Italy), set to be debated by the Committee on Transport (TRAN), on 25 January.

At present, EU legislation does not impose total separation between transport and infrastructure management activities. The infrastructure operator may, for example, form part of a holding company that also includes one or more railway companies. However, Parliament has often voiced concerns about the lack of real independence of infrastructure operators from the incumbent railway companies. The European Commission did not tackle this issue in its proposal for recast of the first railway package, presented in September 2010, taking the view that infringement procedures under way would suffice to solve the problem. In her working draft, Serracchiani nevertheless states that the lack of...

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