Aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on of rail­way vehicles

The new Euro­pean Com­mis­si­on Imple­men­ting Regu­la­ti­on for the Aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on of Rail­way Vehicles

In April 2018, the Euro­pean Com­mis­si­on offi­ci­al­ly published the new Euro­pean Imple­men­ting Regu­la­ti­on for the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on of rail­way vehic­les. This docu­ment is an important mile­stone and buil­ding block within the so-called Tech­ni­cal Pil­lar of the 4th Rail­way Packa­ge, and it had been deman­ded for years by the Euro­pean rail­way sec­tor. Howe­ver, now that it is published and in force, it is unclear whe­ther all the Mem­ber Sta­tes of the Euro­pean Uni­on will actual­ly imple­ment the new regu­la­ti­on in June 2019.

The 4th Rail­way Package

In April 2017, Josef Dop­pel­bau­er (Exe­cu­ti­ve Direc­tor of the Euro­pean Uni­on Agen­cy for Rail­way, refer­red to here as “the Agen­cy”) said “The 4th Rail­way Packa­ge is the sin­gle most signi­fi­cant chan­ge in rail­way legis­la­ti­on!” His­to­ri­cal­ly, the rail­way sys­tem has been deve­lo­ped on an indi­vi­du­al basis within the dif­fe­rent Euro­pean natio­nal sta­tes. As a result, rail­way trans­port in the EU is orga­nis­ed in a rather mono­po­li­stic and pro­tec­tion­ist way. This histo­ry makes it dif­fi­cult for the Euro­pean rail­way sec­tor to pro­vi­de and estab­lish easy and unrest­ric­ted cross-border traf­fic bet­ween the Mem­ber Sta­tes. To over­co­me this his­to­ri­cal obs­ta­cle, the 4th Rail­way Packa­ge was laun­ched with the inten­ti­on of offe­ring a new approach, one that would deli­ver a solu­ti­on, reli­ef, and pro­gress for the Euro­pean rail­way sec­tor. Various chan­ges and amend­ments were made to exis­ting pro­ce­du­res and prin­ci­ples, the sin­gle pur­po­se being to eli­mi­na­te the natio­nal admi­nis­tra­ti­ve and tech­ni­cal bar­riers bet­ween the dif­fe­rent Mem­ber Sta­tes, signi­fi­cant­ly redu­cing the cost of rail­ways so as to increase the com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness and attrac­ti­ve­ness of the rail­way sector.

In May 2016, the Tech­ni­cal Pil­lar of the 4th Rail­way Packa­ge was star­ted by the publi­ca­ti­on of a new Inter­ope­ra­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve (EU 2016/797) and indi­vi­du­al man­da­tes for the Agen­cy to draft so-called Imple­men­ting Regu­la­ti­ons. The­se imple­men­ting regu­la­ti­ons, which are sub­or­di­na­te to EU direc­ti­ves, were to direct­ly app­ly to EU mem­ber sta­tes and thus ensu­re the har­mo­ni­sa­ti­on of pro­ce­du­res and prin­ci­ples at natio­nal level throug­hout Euro­pe. Now, one of the­se new regu­la­ti­ons will regu­la­te the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on of rail­way vehic­les throug­hout the EU in detail.

The new EU Rail­way Vehic­le Aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on Regulation

The new EU Regu­la­ti­on for the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on of rail­way vehic­les intro­du­ces con­sider­a­b­ly more respon­si­bi­li­ty for the manu­fac­tu­r­ers of rol­ling stock than in the past. Sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly, this con­cept fits very well into the so-called Euro­pean New Approach on regu­la­to­ry har­mo­ni­sa­ti­on. In the future, the brunt of the work will lie with the appli­cants, who will have to prepa­re, orga­ni­se and gua­ran­tee the exe­cu­ti­on of the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­ce­du­re on their own until the com­ple­te appli­ca­ti­on is sub­mit­ted to the aut­ho­ri­sing enti­ty. Howe­ver, from a Ger­man point of view, the new regu­la­ti­on repres­ents a back­ward step in terms of rail­way vehic­le aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on. The legal­ly defi­ned admi­nis­tra­ti­ve pro­ces­sing times are lon­ger than the cur­rent Ger­man ones, and natio­nal­ly pro­ven and estab­lished best prac­ti­ces – such as series appr­oval or requi­re­ment free­zes – have not been ful­ly adopted by the Euro­pean legislators.

From June 2019 onwards, the Agen­cy will be at the heart of the new EU-wide har­mo­nis­ed aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­cess and take over the requi­red work and assess­ments from the natio­nal aut­ho­ri­ties. New con­cepts such as Euro­pean multi-country aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on or the Internet-based pro­cess tool OSS (One-Stop Shop) have the pur­po­se and the poten­ti­al to make the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­cess easier, fas­ter, and che­a­per. Howe­ver, the­re are con­cerns in the Euro­pean rail­way indus­try – in addi­ti­on to a cer­tain spi­rit of opti­mism – about unclear requi­re­ments, unpro­ven pro­ces­ses, a lack of plan­ning secu­ri­ty, lon­ger pro­ce­du­res, and thus ulti­m­ate­ly hig­her cos­ts. This is becau­se the new regu­la­ti­on has not real­ly repla­ced any exis­ting pro­cess steps. In this respect, the ques­ti­on ari­ses as to whe­ther the only thing that has been crea­ted here is an addi­tio­nal EU admi­nis­tra­ti­ve level. The­r­e­fo­re, whe­ther the theo­ry will be fol­lo­wed by prac­ti­ca­ble imple­men­ta­ti­on, whe­ther the on-line tool OSS will run sta­b­ly in 2019, and whe­ther appli­cants can afford multi-country aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on, are all out­co­mes that will be reve­a­led in the near future.


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