The fourth rail­way package

The new EU regu­la­ti­on for vehic­le authorisation

On 16 Novem­ber 2017, the decis­i­on will be taken as to whe­ther or not the­re will in future be a new and then a har­mo­nis­ed aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­ce­du­re for rail vehic­les in Europe. 

RISC Mee­ting

From 15 to 16 Novem­ber 2017 the ‘Rail­way Inter­ope­ra­bi­li­ty and Safe­ty Com­mit­tee’ (RISC for short) will be mee­ting in Brussels in repre­sen­ta­ti­on of the EU mem­ber sta­tes with the aim of making a recom­men­da­ti­on for the final draft of a Euro­pean aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on regu­la­ti­on for rail vehic­les, which is now on the table. For almost two years, the draft has been in the pro­cess of dis­cus­sion and pre­pa­ra­ti­on with all the EU mem­ber sta­tes and prot­ago­nists from the rail­way sec­tor. Yet even in its final ver­si­on it is still regard­ed as some­what cri­ti­cal – which means that so far, a posi­ti­ve vote in the RISC looks to be any­thing but certain.

The fourth rail­way packa­ge – the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on regulation

If the draft fai­led to meet with appr­oval among the mem­ber sta­tes, one of the main pil­lars of the Euro­pean Commission’s fourth rail­way packa­ge would col­lap­se; the prin­ci­pal demand of the rail­way indus­try, name­ly that this sec­tor should final­ly be dere­gu­la­ted and made uni­form throug­hout Euro­pe, would fall through. By imple­men­ting the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on regu­la­ti­on, tho­se invol­ved hope to impro­ve their com­pe­ti­ti­ve strength in rela­ti­on to other modes of transport.

If on the other hand the draft does meet with appr­oval, the world of rail will chan­ge, and not only for train manu­fac­tu­r­ers and rail ope­ra­tors. The draft packs a punch; not wit­hout reason is it view­ed in expert cir­cles as the most major legal chan­ge in the modern age of the rail­way indus­try: apart from a com­ple­te­ly new aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­ce­du­re for rail vehic­les, har­mo­nis­ed throug­hout Euro­pe, the licen­sing aut­ho­ri­ties of the mem­ber sta­tes will also sur­ren­der a wide ran­ge of respon­si­bi­li­ties to Euro­pe, the appli­cants and pri­va­te test­ing orga­ni­sa­ti­ons. The Euro­pean Uni­on Agen­cy for Rail­ways (ERA), with its regis­tered office in the French city of Valen­ci­en­nes, would shift into the cent­re of the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­ce­du­re and thus come to per­form clas­si­cal admi­nis­tra­ti­ve duties at Euro­pean level. Manu­fac­tu­r­ers and appli­cants would in future be forced to have the con­for­mi­ty and safe­ty of their pro­ducts vali­da­ted and veri­fied exclu­si­ve­ly via inde­pen­dent pri­va­te test agencies.


To sum­ma­ri­se, the­re are not only com­ple­te­ly new pro­ces­ses up ahead for one of the most important Euro­pean trans­port car­ri­ers – to which all the prot­ago­nists will first need to adapt – but also com­ple­te­ly new respon­si­bi­li­ties. The regu­la­ti­on of the­se new pro­ces­ses and respon­si­bi­li­ties will on the one hand be the sub­ject of a Euro­pean admi­nis­tra­ti­ve law which is only now coming into being; on the other, it will beco­me the con­tent of pre­cis­e­ly for­mu­la­ted con­trac­tu­al agreements.

Want to find out more? We’ll keep you infor­med.


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