The law of December 8, 2009 created the Regulatory Authority for Railway Activities, ARAF. The law of August 6, 2015 (known as the "Macron law") extended its powers on road issues, which justified the modification of its name, now the Railway and Road Activity Authority, ARAFER.
The function of this regulatory authority is to support the liberalization of the economic activity of rail transport, first of all freight, then passengers, to end the monopoly of the historical operator, SNCF. This regulator is necessary so that new entrants can fight against the power of an incumbent operator, because it is a network industry and transport is an economically natural monopoly. The 2009 law transferred the ownership of the network to a public establishment, Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) separate from the main public operator, but the 2015 law created a "public rail group" with a holding company. having operational powers, restoring powers to the SNCF, in particular through the stations. The Regulator has issued a reserved opinion on this matter.
The regulator ensures non-discriminatory access for competing operators to these essential facilities. ARAFER is an AAI, composed of 7 members, appointed for six years. It has broad investigative powers, can be consulted on any draft law on rail transport and on investment programs in the network. It also has the power to impose penalties on operators.