THE FORMATION of the European Rail Agency reached a milestone on July 15 when the first meeting of the board of directors was held in Valenciennes.

Based in Valenciennes and Lille, ERA has been set up ’to contribute technically to the implementation of community legislation aimed at ameliorating the competitive position of the railway sector’, notably through the development of interoperability, and ’to develop a common approach regarding the security of the European railway’. It will bring together working groups of experts commissioned by various European organisations, and will submit its recommendations to the European Commission.

The board has one director from each of the 25 EU member states, four representatives from the European Commission and six non-voting representatives from different sectors of the rail industry (p457).

Top priority on the agenda was to set out a work schedule for 2004-05 within the draft budget of €15m. Reino Lampinen of Finland was elected Chairman, but the appointment of an Executive Director has been held over until the second board meeting in the autumn.

  • Last month the EC launched a web portal to disseminate information about transport research projects across the European Research Area. Funded by DG TREN through the Fifth Framework Programme, the Transport Research Knowledge Centre can be accessed at n