The fourth rail­way packa­ge and pro­duct authorisation

New Euro­pean aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on regu­la­ti­on for rail vehic­les – fol­low up

Why manu­fac­tu­r­ers and ope­ra­tors should come to terms with this sub­ject now

On 16 Novem­ber 2017, the Euro­pean Commission’s RISC com­mit­tee cle­ared the way to a new and har­mo­nis­ed aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­ce­du­re for rail vehicles.

RISC mee­ting

After fur­ther inten­si­ve nego­tia­ti­ons, adjus­t­ments and amend­ments, the ‘Rail­way Inter­ope­ra­bi­li­ty and Safe­ty Com­mit­tee“ (RISC for short) appro­ved the draft by the Euro­pean Com­mis­si­on for a Euro­pean aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on regu­la­ti­on in the rail­way indus­try on 16 Novem­ber 2017. This appr­oval by the RISC (in repre­sen­ta­ti­on of the EU mem­ber sta­tes), now that it has final­ly been rea­ched, is ano­ther mile­stone in the imple­men­ta­ti­on of the plan­ned legis­la­ti­on for the fourth rail­way packa­ge. This means that as from June 2019 in the Euro­pean Uni­on the­re will be a com­ple­te­ly new aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­ce­du­re for rail vehic­les, har­mo­nis­ed right across Europe. 

The fourth rail­way packa­ge – the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on regulation 

The new aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on regu­la­ti­on for rail vehic­les, drawn up by the Euro­pean Com­mis­si­on on the basis of the revi­sed Inter­ope­ra­bi­li­ty Direc­ti­ve (EU 2016/797), is seen as a key com­po­nent of the tech­ni­cal pil­lar within the fourth rail­way packa­ge. Via uni­form regu­la­ti­ons and requi­re­ments, the aim is to dis­mant­le the various dif­fe­rent natio­nal hurd­les in vehic­le aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on and redu­ce the cos­ts, dura­ti­on and com­ple­xi­ty of the indi­vi­du­al appr­oval pro­ce­du­res. The aim, at the end of it all, is to have both noti­ces of aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on which are valid throug­hout Euro­pe and har­mo­nis­ed rail­way vehic­les and infra­struc­tures, making barrier-free cross-border traf­fic pos­si­ble within the EU. By this sim­pli­fi­ca­ti­on and stan­dar­di­s­a­ti­on of pro­ces­ses the rail­way indus­try hopes to achie­ve cost savings of up to 20%, and thus impro­ved attrac­ti­ve­ness, pro­fi­ta­bi­li­ty and com­pe­ti­ti­ve strength for the sec­tor as a whole.

The new Imple­men­ting Act for the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on of rail vehic­les is to be published in the Offi­ci­al Jour­nal of the EU in the spring of 2018, sub­se­quent­ly coming into force in all EU mem­ber sta­tes in June 2019. The act will see mem­ber sta­tes sur­ren­de­ring con­cre­te admi­nis­tra­ti­ve respon­si­bi­li­ties, com­pe­ten­ces and pro­ce­du­res to Euro­pe and pri­va­te test­ing orga­ni­sa­ti­ons. Basi­cal­ly, the Euro­pean rail­way sec­tor is cele­bra­ting the new aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on regu­la­ti­on as a suc­cess, but in spi­te of that the docu­ment – even in its final amend­ment – is not enti­re­ly free of con­tro­ver­sy. Bet­ween now and June 2019, both the Euro­pean Uni­on Agen­cy for Rail­ways (ERA), which will be moving cent­re stage as regards vehic­le aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on, and the natio­nal aut­ho­ri­ties still have a good deal to do. Apart from the aboli­ti­on and / or adapt­a­ti­on of the natio­nal admi­nis­tra­ti­ve pro­ce­du­res, the­se very appr­oval pro­ce­du­res, pro­ces­ses, struc­tures, agen­ci­es and instru­ments still need to be deve­lo­ped, imple­men­ted and estab­lished at Euro­pean level. Given that, it is no sur­pri­se that at the pre­sent time the draft still has some gaps in it, or that cri­ti­cal aspects of pro­duct aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on so far remain uncla­ri­fied or have not been pro­vi­ded for con­clu­si­ve­ly. Here and the­re, the­re is even talk of a retro­gra­de step for the rail­way sec­tor, imma­tu­re pro­ces­ses and an admi­nis­tra­ti­ve ‘mons­ter’ at Euro­pean level. 


In the months ahead all the prot­ago­nists of the Euro­pean rail­way indus­try will have to get attu­n­ed to the­se new pro­ces­ses. Moreo­ver, until such time as the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on regu­la­ti­on comes into force, fur­ther sup­ple­men­ta­ry acts of law and legis­la­ti­ve pro­ce­du­res are expec­ted – at Euro­pean and natio­nal­al level – , and they are likely to con­tri­bu­te fur­ther to the com­ple­xi­ty of the issue. 

We will keep you informed.


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