The rail regulatory body ensures the fair and non-discriminatory treatment of all operators in the railway sector.
A rail regulatory body has been established in each EU country to ensure well-functioning markets and the fair and non-discriminatory treatment of operators in the sector.
In this context, operators refer particularly to actors who require a rail network and the services necessary to operate in it, known as railway operators. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency manages the state-owned railway network. In addition to the state-owned network, there are relatively short private railways, which are mostly used for freight transport. Railway network services are core transport services, and their providers are known as infrastructure managers. Other services related to railway transport are offered by a number of so-called service facilities operators.
The rail regulatory body is an independent appellate and monitoring body which regulates the sector based on submitted appeals and on its own initiative.
Tasks of the regulatory body
The tasks of the regulatory body include the following in particular:
- Availability of railway services and service prices. Infrastructure managers and operators of service facilities are obligated, with certain preconditions, to provide railway user services and training services to other parties (public service obligation). The regulatory body monitors the implementation of the public service obligation and service prices.
- Questions related to railway capacity allocation and network statement. The infrastructure manager decides on the allocation of railway capacity. The network statement includes important information for railway capacity applicants. EU regulations apply to the content of the network statement. The regulatory body monitors e.g. compliance with regulatory obligations related to the allocation of railway capacity and the appropriateness of the network statement.
- Charges collected for the use of the railway infrastructure. The infrastructure manager collects charges for the use of the railway network from railway operators. The regulatory body ensures that charges are collected equally, without discrimination and in compliance with statutory requirements.
- Other actions influencing equality and non-discrimination.
Rail Regulatory Body in Finland
The regulatory body operates within the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom).
The rail regulatory body makes decisions independently and its decisions are binding on all parties concerned. In addition to the Head of Unit, the regulatory body employs four special advisers. Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a single European railway area strengthened the position of the Regulatory Body and enhanced the requirements for its independence. Moreover, the Directive set new requirements for the funcions of the regulatory body and ensured closer cooperation between the regulatory bodies of the railway sector in Member States. One of the new requirements involves the obligation of the regulatory body to consult the representatives of users of the rail freight and passenger transport services.
Regulatory Body cooperation in Europe
The European Commission has made the Europe-wide harmonisation and standardisation of the rail market into a very high priority over the next few years. One of the key aims of cooperation is to establish a single, competitive, efficient and sustainable railway area in Europe.
IRG-Rail, the Independent Regulators’ Group – Rail, a network of independent rail regulatory bodies of EU Member States, was established in June 2011. It acts as a platform for information exchange and sharing of experiences and best practice between national railway regulators. Moreover, IRG-Rail actively influences decision-making within the European Union.