Fourth Railway Package

The fourth railway package is the European commission’s legislative proposal to increase the efficiency of the European rail system. UNIFE is heavily focused on the technical pillar of the package which would bring major cost and time savings for the rail supply industry.

What is it?

Consecutive legislative railway ‘packages’ have been adopted since 2001, aimed at gradually opening rail markets and making national railway systems interoperable across the EU. In early 2013, the European Commission proposed a Fourth Railway Package (4RP), originally intended to remove the remaining legal, institutional and technical obstacles to creating a single European railway Area (SERA). The Fourth Railway Package is by far the largest and most complex legal initiative introduced so far, consisting of 6 legislative texts, pertaining to two distinct ‘pillars’.  

Why is it important?

UNIFE is and has always been, a strong supporter of the Fourth Railway Package’s Technical Pillar. Its implementation is of paramount importance for the European rail supply industry’s future competitiveness.

Its full implementation would remove the remaining technical barriers to the Single European Rail Area by:

  • Significantly reducing costs and administrative burden;
  • Implementing a new harmonised framework for vehicle authorisation that saves businesses from having to file multiple costly applications for vehicle authorisations and safety certificates for operation beyond one single member state;
  • Creating a ‘one-stop shop’ IT tool which will act as a single-entry point for all such applications and using easy, transparent and consistent procedures;
  • Introducing a renewed framework for railway safety committed to promoting safety culture and a harmonised approach to safety certification;
  • Harmonising the implementation of ERTMS with a prior check that the ERTMS trackside technical solutions envisaged are fully compliant with the relevant TSIs;
  • Reducing the large number of national rules and make them more transparent;
  • Enhancing the role of ERA as a European Authorising Entity.

More background information can be found in the Guide on the Fourth Railway Package Technical Pillar produced by the Group of Representative Bodies.

Member State Transposition and Entry into Operation?

For the new regime to begin the Member States must transpose the 4th Railway Package into national law. On 16 June 2019, the new regime entered operation with ERA and eight Member States who transposed the Directives by the initial deadline, laudably Bulgaria, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Romania and Slovenia. The remaining Member States had informed the EC that they will make use of the possible 1-year extension and are due to transpose the directives by 16 June 2020.

UNIFE’s Position and Contribution

As the official Representative Body for the European rail supply industry, UNIFE has attended all ERA working groups and workshops on the development of the 4RP legislation. It is also a member of the EC’s Expert Group on the 4RP, which has provided the sector’s consultation to the EC’s Railway Interoperability and Safety Committee (RISC) where the Member States finalise and vote on the Implementing Regulations.

Since 2016, UNIFE has worked in close cooperation with the ERA, the European Commission and the Group of Representative Bodies in the development of the European regulations and guidelines outlining the new vehicle authorisation process under the Fourth Railway Package, particularly the practical arrangements for the railway vehicle authorisation ((EU) 2018/545), development of the OSS IT Tool and the 2019 amendments to the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs). Significant efforts have been made by the and their experts within the UNIFE technical groups.

In this enhanced capacity, ERA has become the European Authorising Entity for vehicle authorisation and safety certification, ensuring uniform implementation of the EU framework. The European rail supply industry expects the Fourth Railway Package to provide a simplified, transparent, quicker and cheaper vehicle authorisation process, resulting in the stable management of vehicles and vehicle types. A harmonised European authorisation process will give certainty and consistency of requirements across the EU, with less duplication of checks, testing and administration. Further benefits are expected with the vast reduction of Notified National Technical Rules undertaken as part of the Fourth Railway Package programme.

  • (EU) 2016/796 – European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) Regulation
  • (EU) 2016/797 – Recast Interoperability Directive
  • (EU) 2016/798 – Recast Safety Directive
  • (EU) 2018/545 – Practical arrangements for the railway vehicle authorisation and railway vehicle type authorisation process pursuant to Directive (EU) 2016/797
  • (EU) 2018/764 – Fees and charges payable to the European Union Agency for Railways and their conditions of payment
  • (EU) 2018/867 – laying down the rules of procedure of the Board(s) of Appeal of the European Union Agency for Railways
  • (EU) 2019/250 – Templates for ‘EC’ declarations and certificates for railway interoperability constituents and subsystems, on the model of declaration of conformity to an authorised railway vehicle type and on the ‘EC’ verification procedures for subsystems in accordance with Directive (EU) 2016/797
  • (EU) 2019/776 – ‘2019 TSI Package’ amending TSIs LOC&PAS, CCS, WAG, INF, ENE and ERATV Regulation

More information on the new EU vehicle authorisation process and a compilation of the key regulations and guidelines can be found on the ERA website and in the 2019 updates to the TSIs.

Key Fourth Railway Package legislation to known for UNIFE Members

Current UNIFE activities

Since the new regime’s entry into operation, UNIFE continues to closely monitor the implementation and application of the Fourth Railway Package with our members to ensure that thee Technical Pillar becomes a success, securing the expected benefits for the European rail supply industry. These tasks include finalising the remaining EU Implementing Regulations and tasks related to the Fourth Railway Package, such as cleaning up national rules, monitoring the implementation by ERA and the Member States, collating the return of experience of the European rail supply industry and contribute to the on-going development of the ERA IT landscape (e.g. improvement to OSS, ERATV, RDD/SRD and others).

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