Joint position paper on a new role for the European Railway Agency (ERA)

CER, UNIFE, ERFA and UIP position on the Future role of ERA


One of the key targets of European transport policy is to achieve a Single European Railway Area. For this purpose four key objectives shall be pursued:
• Promoting the development of effective rail infrastructure;
• Establishing an attractive and genuinely open rail market;
• Removing administrative and technical barriers and developing easy and common (Member States neutral) procedures on European level;
• And ensuring a level playing field with other transport modes

In this context, CER and UNIFE call for setting the strategic target of aiming at achieving the single European railway area by incrementally establishing a single European railway vehicle authorisation. The Regulation establishing a European Railway Agency [(EC) No 881/2004] should be correspondingly amended. This is perfectly in line with the Commission objective of removing administrative and technical barriers, whilst contributing to establishing an attractive and open rail market.

In the first place however there is a strong need for the European Commission to push Member States to effectively transpose the Safety & Interoperability directives.
Two decades after the decision to revitalise European rail transport, and more than a decade after the publication of the first Directive on the Interoperability of the European railway system, the legal framework of the European railways has been deeply transformed.

In spite of this, we still face problems based on the gap between theory (the legal framework) and practice (diverging application by Member States).

Thus, in spite of the implementation of a basic legislative framework for the interoperability and safety of the European railway system, interoperability is still far from being achieved and measures have to be taken to reach this objective sooner, with all actors acting in a harmonised way.

It can be expected that a harmonised system will be reached step-by-step together with an increase in the quality and quantity of specifications as well as of the scope of application – while nevertheless taking into consideration economic realities. Interoperability is – to a large extent – “cross acceptance” and a “single process for placing into service of vehicles”. When looking at existing and long-lasting infrastructure subsystem/constituents, they will not meet the specifications for interoperability for another decade or even more - until they are renewed or upgraded.

A single European railway area cannot therefore be achieved without developing ERA’s role and without accelerated application of the TSIs through the extension of their geographic scope and the consequent reduction in national rules, coupled with more effective ERA engagement with the National Safety Authorities and the Member States.

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