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)


Vehicle authorisations are amongst the lengthiest and costly processes in the railway sector with up to 2 years or more duration. With the new EU vehicle authorisation procedure to start on 16th of June 2019, the ERA proposes a 1-year shadow-running phase, starting on 16th of June 2018.

Furthermore, the practical details of the transition are still being discussed. These are of particularly importance for all pending applications with NSAs and their further processing by the ERA from 16th of June 2019 onwards. The ERA and the NSAs are currently discussing the practicalities for transferring applications and the acceptance and processing by ERA of those parts already assessed by the NSAs.

With regard to the transposition, Member States may consider extending the transposition of the directive by up to 1 year, by 16th June 2020.

In addition, ERA has to sign a cooperation agreement with each national safety authority (NSA).