On 13 January 2021, the Commission published its seventh monitoring report on the development of the rail market. More particularly, considering the 2015-2018 period, the report provides for a picture of the progresses made according to Directive 2012/34/EU defining the objectives for a single European railway area.

Drawing on the reporting questionnaire set out by the so-called “RMMS Regulation”, the report deals with a broad range of topics such as, amongst the others, the evolution of the single market for rail services, the infrastructure and services available to railway undertakings, the state of the network and the barriers to more effective rail services in order to help the sector face the main market challenges. Despite rail passenger and freight volumes have increased consistently (respectively by 2.5% and 4.1% per year), as well as the demand for sustainable forms of transport and the public awareness about climate change, indeed, the rail sector is not yet achieving its full potential.

In order to satisfy the demand for more sustainable transport, thereby helping to achieve the ambitions of the European Green Deal, therefore, the Union’s action should be focusing on four objectives, that is i) granting a fair access to the market for all operators, so as to allow for the introduction of new multimodal offers and to increase the choice for passengers and businesses, ii) improving cross-border rail services, for example by fulfilling the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), iii) ensuring the efficient provision of rail transport services through the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), and iv) encouraging an action focused on customers’ needs which ensures an improved punctuality and reliability of transports as well as a better access to services in rail facilities.