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.

Christian Rausch
Chairman of the Group of Representative Bodies (GRB)


The 4th RP brings by substantial reforms, especially in the technical pillar:

    • Shift of technical and safety rule-making from the national to the EU level;
    • Issuing of safety certificates and vehicle authorisations by the ERA;
    • Creation of a new ERTMS track-side approval procedure by the ERA;
    • Fees and charges levied by the ERA on applicants for its certification, authorisation and approval activities;
    • Reduction of national rules by the Member States;
    • Creation of new tools and processes by the ERA (IT portal, board of appeal, pool of experts, etc.).

⇒ Each of these individual reforms has a far-reaching impact on the rail sector (financial, operational, legal, procedural, etc.). In addition, some of these reforms will be delivered through the ‘fast-track’ instrument of delegated legislation (implementing and delegated acts), reducing considerably the time between the proposal and the adoption as well as the power of scrutiny by the co-legislators and the industry.