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)


The 4th Railway Package (RP) is meant to achieve the following objectives:

  • Achieve cost reductions
  • Remove administrative and technical barriers
  • Increase competitiveness
  • Accelerate the processes of vehicle authorisation and safety certification
  • Harmonise the implementation of ERTMS

The EC quantifies the benefits of the 4th RP on its website :

  • Over €40bn of financial benefits for citizens and companies by 2035 (combined with structural reforms);
  • Provision of up to about €16bn additional passenger-km;
  • 20% reduction in the time to market for new RUs;
  • 20% reduction in the cost and duration for the authorisation of rolling stock;
  • Total savings for companies of €500 million until 2025.

⇒ It is too early to state if and when these benefits will be realised. According to the EU, costs for the sector will increase in the first 5 years after the reforms are implemented and then drop considerably afterwards. Therefore, the rail sector has every interest in being closely involved with the implementation to make sure that the cost increase is limited and that the estimated benefits will materialise!