SPAIN: On October 29 the lower house of the Spanish parliament approved the Railway Sector Law, transposing recent European Union directives and notably legislating for the separation of infrastructure from operations on the national network. It is due to come into effect six months after publication in the Spanish official journal.

The new law creates a railway infrastructure authority that will combine GIF with Renfe's infrastructure functions. The new Renfe will be an operating company and the law also provides for the licensing of passenger and freight operators and the creation of a regulatory committee within the Ministry of Development.

Domestic freight will be opened up to competition as soon as the law comes into force, as well as international traffic using the Trans-European Rail Freight Network. Wider access to the national network for international freight operators is expected to be granted before January 1 2006, and passenger services will be opened up to competition as EU law dictates.