Belgian and European legislation provide some provisions which impose an obligation for train operators which hold a dominant position on the national market, to clearly separate organisational and decisional activities related to transport of passengers from those related with service facilities. In this framework, the Belgian Regulatory Body (Belgian RB) ensures that both types of activities are conducted in a transparent, independent and non-discriminatory manner. This legal obligation is imposed because of the existence of different legal regimes for both activities.
At the end of 2016, the Belgian RB decided to investigate on this issue for the SNCB, the only train operator in charge of the public service missions in Belgium. During the investigation it quickly became clear that the compliance was not guaranteed with the historical structure of the different departments of the company.
To that extent and given the fact that it was a new commitment for the incumbent, the Belgian RB started an iterative process with the SNCB to reach the legal compliance of separation.
To this end, the Belgian RB has set out a list of criteria and indicators likely to demonstrate the existence of a clear separation between transport and service facilities activities. These criteria were established on the basis of the best practices in other areas and on the Commission staff working document on the implementation of the Railway Infrastructure Package. These criteria implemented within the entity in charge of the service facilities management refer to :
- financial autonomy.
- implementation of own processes.
- absence of external influence.
- confidentiality of information.
- autonomous IT-System.
- separate offices.
- specific staff recruitment procedure.
- staff assessment.
The decision is available in French and Dutch only