THE ROMANIAN government has approved legislation paving the way for independent operators to run parts of the national rail network as short lines.

The regulations designate 118 sections of secondary line as ’non-interoperable’, but they will remain state property and will be leased rather than sold. Local operating, maintenance and safety rules will still apply.

Infrastructure manager CFR is specifically prohibited from operating train services on the designated lines, or forming partnerships to run them. It is required to invite bids from ’licensed railway operators’, with local authorities able to specify a ’minimum obligatory public service package’. However, there is provision to withdraw passenger and freight services if contract terms cannot be agreed after a second round of bidding.

Junction stations would remain part of the ’interoperable’ network, which will continue to be managed ’exclusively’ by CFR.