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)
Technical interoperability is at the core of virtually any reform of the EU railway sector. To create the single European railway area with smooth cross-border train operations, the EU decided to impose harmonisation of technical interfaces and subsystems in the form of technical specifications for Interoperability: Technical Specifications for Interoperability.
The first such Directive was adopted in 1996 with 1996/48/EC, which was amended 5 years later by 2001/16/EC, and again 3 years later by 2004/50/EC. These were amended 4 years later by recast directive 2008/57/EC, which received further amendments in 2009 by 2009/131/EC and 2011 by 2011/18/EU.
⇒ With each Directive, the EU extended the scope of interoperability and strengthened the role of the EU vs the Member States. However, the powers and the status of the ERA remained unchanged.