The rail system in France and in Europe, is constantly evolving, not only from an institutional and legal viewpoint but also in terms of economic and technical aspects. On 14th December 2016, European Parliament adopted the part of the Fourth Railway Package concerning the national markets being opened up to competition and concerning governance of stakeholders in the rail system.
Also, on 27th June 2018, the enactment of the law concerning the new railway pact stipulated the schedule for opening up to European competition and instituted a new organisational structure for the SNCF public rail group. This context goes hand in hand with increasing questions, in terms of innovation and new technologies available for improvement of economic sustainability and mobility, and is also subordinate to an ever growing demand from citizens, users and customers in terms of safety, quality and protection of the environment.
The EPSF, created in 2006, follows on from European Parliament and Council Directive 2004/49/EC of 29th April 2004 concerning the safety of European Community railways, is central to the overall structure. It holds responsibility for the "national rail system", overseeing rail safety, contributing to the interoperability of European networks and also ensuring that stakeholders are treated fairly.