Standards and regulation

As the official Representative Body for the European rail supply industry, UNIFE coordinates the contributions and positions of the rail supply industry towards the development of regulations, standards, guidelines and other documents effecting technical harmonisation, interoperability and safety drafted by the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA), European Standardisation Organisation (ESOs) and the European Commission.

The goal of UNIFE is to ensure the continued evolution of the technical regulation and standards framework is carried out in a way that will improve the competitiveness of the European Rail Supply Industry, supports the harmonisation and transparency of technical rules in Europe and facilitates the development and authorisation of rail products.

The common regulatory framework for railway interoperability and safety has been set out in the Railway Interoperability and Safety Directives which are in turn supported by the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs), Common Safety Methods (CSMs) and European Standards (EN). The UNIFE Standards and Regulations Group (SRG), supported by the UNIFE Technical Working Groups, is responsible in UNIFE for monitoring developments in both the regulation and standardisation fields, which make up this technical regulatory framework as represented by the pyramid below. The careful coordination of activities in both areas is required in order to ensure that the work carried out by the EU Institutions and European Standardisation Organisations is complementary and improves the functioning and competitiveness of the rail sector.

UNIFE Activities on Technical Regulation

Fourth Railway Package Technical Pillar

In recent years, the Fourth Railway Package Technical Pillar has been the priority subject regarding technical railway regulation development for the European rail supply industry, in particular the introduction of the new European vehicle authorisation process. 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 necessary for the implementation of the Technical Pillar. More information on the Fourth Railway Package and UNIFE’s contribution can be found on the dedicated topic page.

TSI revision 2020-2022

Following the TSI revisions in 2019 focused on the adaptation of the TSIs to the Fourth Railway Package process, the EC and ERA have now set their sights on the next TSI revisions including a wider scope.

At the start of 2020, the European Commission formally sent a request to the ERA for the next revision of the TSIs containing a detailed list of 74 actions. This request to ERA asks for recommendations for the TSI enhancements to be ready for publication in 2022, identifying two priority policy areas for the European Commission of ‘Digital Rail’ and ‘Green Freight’. Objectives within these policy areas include:

  • Enhance ERTMS technical and operational interoperability and incorporate the ERTMS game changers
  • Facilitate the introduction of digital technologies and enhance information flows for freight and passengers
  • Further remove barriers to freight and support uptake of more environmental friendly technologies
  • Support a more efficient freight and further simplify and improve requirements on rail vehicles

In addition, the standing and recurrent tasks to keep TSIs fit for purpose such as correcting deficiencies, updating standards, reviewing specific case and considering return of experience will continue.

This work shall be carried out by ERA under a reshaped TSI revision system. The overall coordination of this task shall be managed by the ERA Working Party on the revision of TSIs to which UNIFE is a member. Multiple ‘Topical Working Groups’ will be established by ERA to address the individual actions in detail and formulate the resulting TSI amendments. UNIFE will continue to represent the position on the European rail supply industry within all ERA working groups developing these TSI revisions. The internal coordination of this task shall be overseen by the UNIFE Standards and Regulations Group (SRG) in cooperation with other UNIFE Committees.

UNIFE Activities on Technical Standardisation

Standardisation is essential to improving quality and competitiveness of the European railway industry. UNIFE promotes the harmonization of workstreams and efficient coordination between standards, regulations and European research outputs.

Together with the other sector representative organisations in the framework of the GRB, UNIFE has prepared the Standardisation Factsheet defining the most important terms in the area of European Railway Standardisation.

UNIFE plays an important role for Standardisation even though as an association it has no direct role in drafting of standards, which remains fundamentally based on national experts and voting from the National Standardization Bodies (NSBs). Most importantly, UNIFE member companies support standardisation activities as NSB representatives and UNIFE facilitates their coordination at the European level through UNIFE Committees and technical working groups.

UNIFE cooperates with CEN and CENELEC through its liaison A status.

UNIFE is member of the Sector Forum Rail (SFR/JPC-R) together with the ESOs and other Representative Bodies (CER, EIM, UITP, UIP, ERFA).

Through the SFR UNIFE helps to coordinates, programme and prioritise the needs and use of European Standards for the benefit of the sector in Europe and therefore plays an important role for:

  • Shaping the future TSI Revision process and connection between TSIs and referenced EN Standards
  • Monitoring the new processes for harmonising standards (hEN) via the EC’s HAS Consultants.
  • Identifying new standardisation needs e.g. request to launch new Cen/Cenelec Survey Groups
  • Monitoring planned standardisation outcomes from Shift2Rail and ensuring link to Cen/Cenelec WGs
  • Following the standardisation requests from ERA or EC

In the framework of the SFR UNIFE also monitors links to ISO/TC 269 and IEC/TC 9 and migration of European Standards to International Standardisation. The UNIFE Position Paper on International Standardisation addresses the increasing importance of the topic for the European Rail Supply Industry.

Unife technical working groups

Key EU and industry documents

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