Directive 1991/440 - Development of the EC's railways


Summary of Legislation

Development of the Community's railways

This directive recognises the need for a greater integration of the European railway system into an increasingly competitive market. The directive also makes the important distinction between the provision of transport services and the operation of infrastructure, identifying the need for these two areas to be managed separately in order to facilitate the future development and efficiency of the Community’s railways.


Council Directive 91/440/EEC of 29 July 1991 on the development of the Community's railways [See amending act(s)].


The directive applies to the management of railway infrastructure and to the rail transport activities of the railway undertakings established or to be established in the Community, with the exception of railway undertakings whose activity is limited to the provision of solely urban, suburban or regional services.

Management independence

European Union (EU) countries must take the appropriate measures to ensure that railway undertakings are independent with regards management, administration and internal control over administrative, economic and accounting matters, thereby holding assets, budgets and accounts separate from those belonging to the State.

EU countries must also take the necessary action to enable railway undertakings to adapt their activities to the market and allow their own management bodies to be responsible for the management of their activities, thereby efficiently providing the required quality of service at the lowest possible cost.

Separation between infrastructure management and transport operations

EU countries must ensure the separation of infrastructure management and transport operations by keeping separate profit and loss accounts and balance sheets and publishing them individually for business relating to the provision of transport services by railways undertakings and for business relating to the management of railway infrastructure. Public funds must also reflect this separation and those paid to one activity must not be transferred to the other.

Individual EU countries will be responsible for the development of their national railway infrastructure but they must bear in mind, where necessary, the general needs of the Community.

Access to railway infrastructure

The railway undertakings concerned by this directive will be accorded access to the infrastructure in all other EU countries for the operation of all rail freight services and international passenger services.

Monitoring tasks of the Commission

The Commission will monitor the technical and economic conditions and market developments of the European rail transport, working closely with representatives both from EU countries and from the relevant sectors to better assess the efficiency and impact of the adopted measures.




Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 91/440/EEC



OJ L 237 of 24.8.1991


Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2001/12/EC



OJ L 75 of 15.3.2001

Directive 2004/51/EC



OJ L 164 of 30.4.2004

Directive 2006/103/EC



OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

Directive 2007/58/EC



OJ L 315 of 3.12.2007

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 91/440/EEC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference only.


Commission Communication of 17 September 2010 concerning the development of a Single European Railway Area [COM (2010) 474 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 1191/69 and 1107/70 [Official Journal L 315 of 3.12.2007].

Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification [Official Journal L 75 of 15.3.2001].

Council Directive 95/18/EC of 19 June 1995 on the licensing of railway undertakings [Official Journal L 143 of 27.06.1995].

Last updated: 18.01.2011

This summary has been adopted from EUR-Lex.


Legislative text

Council Directive 91/440/EEC of 29 July 1991 on the development of the Community's railways