Brussels Midi

EUROPE: Harmonised procedures have come into force making the EU Agency for Railways the single certification body for train operators and rolling stock used in international service, as well as for the approval of ERTMS trackside equipment.

October 31 was the formal deadline for EU member states to transpose into domestic legislation the railway safety and interoperability directives that form the technical pillar of the Fourth Railway Package, adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2016.

In the past, train operators and manufacturers working in more than one country had to apply for separate vehicle authorisations and safety certificates in each member state. ERA has now been given additional responsibility to manage the harmonised procedures with a view to reducing the cost, time and administrative burden for obtaining approvals. Under the simplified procedure, a single application must be filed through the agency’s One-Stop Shop. This is also expected to reduce the time-to-market for emerging technologies.

The technical pillar had been due to come into force in June 2019, but member state governments were given an extra year to complete the legislative transposition, and the deadline was then extended to October 31 in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Having started our new role of European authority with initially eight member states in June 2019, we are now crossing the finish line’, said ERA Executive Director Josef Doppelbauer. ‘We have already taken more than 1 000 decisions and authorised more than 10 000 vehicles. With the extension of our competence to the whole EU, we reach another milestone on the way to the Single European Railway Area.’

‘The full implementation of the Fourth Railway Package across the whole EU is key to boosting rail transport’, added European Commissioner for Mobility & Transport Adina Vălean. ‘I count on the Member States which haven’t transposed it yet to do their outmost to fulfil this obligation very soon. We are making rail more efficient, safe, affordable and thus more competitive vis-à-vis other modes of transport. This is a big step on our way to decarbonise Europe’s transport sector and to make rail more attractive ahead of 2021 - the European Year of Rail.’