Joint Letter to to the German Federal minister Alexander Dobrindt and EU Commissioner Violeta Bulc on Rastatt disaster

Open letter from the representatives of the European rail logistics

The Rhine valley railways will be interrupted for almost two months because of the Rastatt construction site accident. Once the route is reopened the announced date of 7 October 2017, railway logistics will have suffered immense damage.

The Rastatt disruption and the current crisis management is a perfect example of what is wrong with European rail freight transportation.

It is still unclear for many railway experts to understand why the total closure of the line could not have been avoided or significantly shortened by the building of a temporary, single track replacement line immediately after the damage of the Rhine valley line due to construction works.

Europe relies on the railways as the eco-friendly mode of transport of the future. Hoping not to lose our chance of guaranteeing a competitive railway logistics, we rely on your full support.
 Together, we are committed to make rail logistics work also in this emergency situation.

Joint letter to the European Commission on Implementation of the 4th Railway Package’s Technical Pillar – Vehicle Authorisation

Joint Letter from the Group of Representative Bodies

The European railway sector, the European Union Agency for Railways and the Member States have been intensively working on the practical arrangements for vehicle authorisation for a long time. The draft working document was handed over by the Agency to the European Commission and discussed among the aforesaid actors at the last EC Expert Group in Brussels on 12.04.2017.

The sector associations would like to draw your attention to a very critical point regarding the transitional provision. The current proposal of the EC foresees a potential gap of several months, where an applicant cannot yet apply to the Agency (option only available starting from 16 June 2019), but at the same time the National Safety Authorities (NSAs) would not start new application processes as they can no longer issue authorisation under the old 2008/57 Directive after 16 June 2019. Authorization processes last several months from the official request by the applicant to the NSAs. Such an option will generate uncertainties, costs and delays for projects planned in 2019-2020.

Therefore, in order to be constructive and ensure a timely implementation of the 4th Railway Package’s Technical Pillar, CER, EIM, UNIFE, EPTTOLA and UIP submitted a position paper on the transitional provision and a proposal for text amendments on the implementing act for vehicle authorisation covering other sector concerns. Whilst these 13 amendments do not change the spirit of the existing Agency’s draft, they are essential for implementing a sound approach to shape sound practical arrangements.

The sector focusses on the four crucial points: requirements capture, the pre-engagement baseline, the update of an issued vehicle type authorization as well as on the transitional regime for vehicles, vehicle
types and the implications of running cross border traffic when different MS apply under different legislations.

The sector associations believe that the text as proposed by the Agency needs to be amended. UNIFE and CER ask the European Commission to take these amendments into account in order to avoid that the future vehicle authorisation process becomes a burden for the sector.

The set-up of lean and transparent vehicle authorisation and safety certification processes are key for the success of the implementation of the 4th Railway Package’s Technical Pillar. Amending the aforesaid description of the vehicle authorisation processes in the form of the implementing act would allow us achieving this commonly agreed goal.

Joint letter to the European Commission to accelerate the setting-up of Shift2Rail

Joint Letter from the Group of Representative Bodies

Within the European railway sector, the Joint Undertaking SHIFT²RAIL is broadly acknowledged to be the first European initiative focussing on research and innovation (R&I) and market-driven solutions by accelerating the demonstration and integration of new and advanced technologies into innovative solutions for the operational railway.

The Group of Representative Bodies (GRB) would like to emphasise that the SHIFT²RAIL initiative will be key in supporting the implementation of the objectives of the Transport White Paper (2011) and the realisation of the Single European Railway Area (SERA).

A significant number of GRB members have made great efforts to initiate, build up and/or shape the SHIFT²RAIL Joint Undertaking. We note however that after the first phase of euphoria about a breakthrough in rail research and innovation, progress has slowed to a pace that is both disappointing and not very motivational.

GRB is concerned by the delays in the setting-up and implementation of the joint undertaking. SHIFT²RAIL has been in the development pipeline of the European Commission for many years and the initiative has met with broad consensus among the sector stakeholders. Europe cannot afford to hold back the start of this significant R&I programme any longer, which all the investors were expecting – and for which resourcing plans were prepared – in the first quarter of 2015. We are disappointed that this is being delayed by administrative processes that could threaten the competitiveness of the European rail sector.

The Group of Representative Bodies calls upon the European Commission and its relevant services to significantly accelerate the setting-up of SHIFT²RAIL to start the research and innovation activities as soon as possible. GRB is ready and on hand to provide whatever help and assistance it can to stimulate the successful start-up of SHIFT²RAIL. In this context I am convinced that your personal engagement is absolutely vital and I hope to receive feedback from you soon.