General Framework

In the broad context of providing services of general interest, public service contracts in passenger rail transport fulfill important economic and social functions, such as ensuring the fundamental right to mobility, social well-being and regional development.

Also, rail transport imposes comparatively small costs to modal alternatives, as it offers a higher degree of safety, with low environmental costs. At the same time, the presence of railways on sections which are not always commercially viable ensures the access of disadvantaged categories to the opportunities existing on the labor market in extended geographical areas.

Through public service contracts, railway operators (public or private) are rewarded for providing public passenger transport services. On the basis of the legislation establishing the Railway Reform Authority (RRA), as ammended and suplemmented, the administration of the public railway service contracts was transferred from the specialized directorate of the Ministry of Transport to the RRA. Thus, Romania is part of the group of European countries managing public service contracts in passenger transport at the central level.

The key methods for the award of public service contracts in passenger rail transport are competitive auctions and direct assignment. Currently, in Romania, public service contracts are awarded directly. The European tendency in this field encourages competitive practices and the most recent relevant legislation (Fourth Railway Package and Regulation 2016/2338) foresees even the elimination of direct assignment.

Public service contracts in passenger rail transport explicitly define public service obligations, as well as the geographical areas concerned and the calculation parameters of the compensation. The duration of public service contracts is four years, the level of compensation being reviewed annually on the basis of budget resources. Public service obligations include tariff obligations (tariff reductions for certain categories of passengers, for example, free of charge for students), but also those relating to the frequency of services. Quality requirements impose certain standards regarding punctuality, availability of places, customer information, cleanliness, features of rolling stock, etc.

Currently, A.R.F. administers the public service contracts in the railway passenger transport with the following railway operators: SNTFC “CFR-CALATORI” SA, SC Interregional Călători SRL, SC Regiotrans SRL, SC Softrans SRL, SC Transferoviar Călători SA and SC Regio Călători SRL.

Autoritatea pentru Reformă Feroviară

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