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Draft rules that aim to remove the technical obstacles that differing national standards and procedures place in the way of rail operators and rolling stock were approved in the Transport and Tourism committee on Tuesday. The rules agreed between Parliament and Council negotiators, on the “technical pillar” of the 4th railway package should cut the time and cost involved in certifying that operators, locomotives and carriages meet safety and technical standards.

For cross-border services, applications for safety certification of rail companies and authorisation of locomotives and carriages will be made to the European Railway Agency (ERA). For providing services and placing on the market of rolling stock within a member state, operators and manufacturers would be able to choose whether to apply either to the ERA or to the national authorities.

So far manufacturers of railway rolling stock who want to place new vehicles on the market in more than one EU country, have to apply to authorities in each of the countries. Similarly, if a railway company wishes to operate in more than one EU country, they have to have their safety management systems certified in each country.

The changes aim to make these authorisation procedures faster and less burdensome to operators and manufacturers, removing some of the remaining obstacles for the completion of the single European railway area and boosting competitiveness of the European rail sector.

ERA will be tasked with setting up an information and communication system, which will function as a single entry point for all applications for safety certification and market authorisation.

It will also have a greater role in ensuring seamless development of the control and command systems, in that if any calls for tenders are published for the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) track-side equipment, it will be able to assess the technical solutions foreseen.

Parliament’s negotiators ensured that the new certification and authorisation arrangements would be operational within 3 years of the entry into force of the new rules. EU member states may extend this period by one year, if they notify the ERA and the European Commission and justify the extension.

The agreement also provides for further harmonization of technical standards over time.

Next steps

The EP transport committee recommendations to approve the Council position on the “technical pillar” files of the 4th railway package voted on Tuesday 15 March which reflects the trilogue agreement reached between Council and EP negotiations in June 2015, now need to be approved by the full house of the Parliament.

Note to editors


The 4th railway package, tabled by the European Commission in January 2013, aims to improve the competitiveness of the rail sector and quality of rail services by reducing the costs to rail operators of obtaining authorizations and certifications, introduce more competition in passenger services and ensure a level playing field for operators.


The technical pillar files of the 4th railway package define rules on interoperability, safety and the role of the European Railway Agency. The “market” or “political” pillar proposals aim to encourage further competition in passenger rail services and ensure that networks are run in a non-discriminatory manner.


Parliament voted its position on the Commission proposals in February 2014. A trilogue agreement on the “technical” files was reached in June 2015. EP is also currently in negotiations with the Dutch Council of the EU presidency on the “market” pillar files.

Disclaimer: this is an informal message intended to help journalists covering the work of the European Parliament. It is neither an official press release nor a comprehensive record of proceedings.