European Railway Agency: New interoperability and safety directives

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Rail travel is an important means of transport in all European countries.

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Rail travel is an important means of transport in all European countries.

The European Commission welcomes the political agreement reached at the Transport Council on the Technical Pillar of the Fourth Railway Package.

The Technical Pillar includes three proposals of a comprehensive package of measures to deliver better quality and more choice in railway services in Europe: Interoperability and safety directives and a new set of rules for the European Railway Agency.

A key role is addressing rising traffic demand, congestion, fuel security and decarburization. But the rail sector is fragmented in national markets that entail a huge variety of rules and procedures for manufacturers and railway undertakings.

The Technical Pillar of the Fourth railway package addresses reforms that simplify procedures for manufacturers and railway undertakings bringing down rail operation costs.

Vice President Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President responsible for Transport said: “If we want a competitive rail sector, providing better and affordable services to the citizens in order to be able to compete at international level, we have to complete the rail internal market. This will only be possible if we remove the remaining technical barriers, increase economies of scale, decrease administrative costs, accelerate administrative procedures and avoid discrimination. I hope the success achieved today with the Technical Pillar will be followed by the other proposals of the Fourth Railway Package so that we can boost the rail sector and revitalize this declining market.”

The European Commission’s objective is to cut the administrative costs of rail companies and facilitate the entrance of new operators into the market, along with simplification and increased effectiveness of procedures.

With these proposals, the European Rail Agency will become a “one-stop shop” issuing EU wide vehicle authorizations for placing on the market as well as EU wide safety certificates for operators. Currently rail vehicle authorizations and safety certificates are issued by each Member State.

These measures would allow a 20% reduction in the time to market for new railway undertakings and a 20% reduction of the costs and duration for the authorization of rolling stock.

Overall, this should lead to a saving for companies of €500 million by 2025.

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Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.