After intense and fruitful trilogue negotiations in the past months, the European Parliament approved the “technical pillar” of the 4th Railway Package on the 28th of April, thereby setting a milestone for the European railway sector in general, and for the European Railway Agency in particular.
The technical pillar of the 4th Railway Package is designed to reduce the technical obstacles that differing national standards and procedures create for rail operators and rolling stock manufacturers.
The European Railway Agency will play a central role in this process as it will be empowered to issue market vehicle authorisations and safety certifications, making those procedures faster and easier for railway manufacturers and operators.
Procedural costs for a locomotive marketing authorisation can account for up to 10% of its cost. Authorising new rolling stock can take up to two years under the current legislative framework. By simplifying and accelerating those processes, ERA will contribute to boosting competitiveness of the European rail sector, and create a lean regulatory framework for the Single European Railway Area (SERA), which will provide customers quality products and competitive prices.
A central tenet of the Europeanisation of the regulatory framework is a One-Stop-Shop for applications, an information and communication system, which will function as a single entry point for all applications for safety certification and market vehicle authorisation.
The European Railway Agency will also be able to play a greater role in ensuring seamless development of control and command systems, because it will be able to assess the technical solutions foreseen in any call for tenders published for the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) for the supply of track-side equipment. The agreement also provides for further harmonisation of technical standards.
Last but not least, the new regulation for the railway agency will come with a name change: with the entry into force of the 4th Railway Package – which is expected in late June 2016 – the European Railway Agency will become the European Union Agency for Railways.
Source: European Railway Agency