Since 1991, the European railway sector has constantly been reformed by the European Union. The 4th Railway Package, which was adopted in 2016 is by far the largest and most complex legal initiative introduced so far.

The 4th Railway Package consists of a political and a technical pillar which introduce substantial reforms for all stakeholders concerned. Whilst the implementation of the political pillar has only started in late 2017, the one of the technical pillar is already in full swing.

Given the numerous initiatives launched by the European Commission and the European Union Agency for Railways (“ERA”/ “the Agency”) and the scope of reforms under way, the Group of Representative Bodies (GRB) decided in mid-2017 to prepare a Guide for Beginners to explain the technical pillar to the wider rail sector.

This Guide illustrates in four different chapters the reforms in the field of vehicle authorisation, safety certification and ERTMS trackside approval as well as the new role of the European Union Agency for Railways as ‘frequently asked questions’.

The Guide has been written and designed for all railway actors, such as railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, wagon keepers, entities in charge of maintenance, manufacturers, locomotive leasing companies, etc. Given the fact that the implementation of the 4th Railway Package is an ongoing process, the Guide will be updated on a regular basis, in line with the progress of the reforms being made on EU level.


Prof Andy Doherty

Chairman of the Group of Representative Bodies (GRB)

Brussels, November 2017