4th Railway Package - Technical Pillar


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. 

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’. 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)


There are several open issues:

  • The EU has reduced the budget allocation for all EU agencies by 10%. This has an impact on ERA in terms of available resources, the quality and quantity of safety certificates to be processed but also the future fees and charges to be applied by the ERA to the sector;
  • The EU is empowered to adopt implementing and delegated acts to change TSIs, CSMs or safety certification processes. This ‘secondary acts’ follows a shorter timescale and a ‘limited’ consultation procedure. This means that changes may be more frequent, making the legal and technical framework less predictable;
  • Member States must have agreed on the date for the transition period;
  • Member States must have transposed Directive 2016/798 into national law to allow the sector to submit applications for safety certification with the ERA;
  • National safety rules (NSRs) which have not been included in the revision of TSI OPE or notified to the EC until 16th of June 2016 or which do not comply with the new legislation and EU criteria will have to be deleted from the relevant register. Furthermore, national rules should not only be reduced but replaced by a harmonised European solution. The Single Rule Database tool which is due to contain all national rules after the cleaning up process is still to be created. This may create an unclear framework which rules apply and are in line with EU legislation;
  • The ERA is developing a common occurrence reporting system for the railway sector to exchange data on incidents which may have an impact on safety. Development and use are currently being discussed by all stakeholders;
  • Current agreements of non-EU Member States (e.g. Switzerland, Norway, others) with EU Member States regulating safety certification will become void and require these non-EU Member States to conclude an agreement directly with the ERA by June 2019.