4th Railway Package - Guide


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. 

The Guide below (drop-down menu) 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)


Directive 2016/797 defines the procedure for vehicle authorisation and ERTMS track-side approval:

  • the procedure for vehicle authorisation is defined in the VA implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/545 and the corresponding guidance;
  • Directive 2016/797 foresees that all applications for national and international vehicle authorisations as well as for the approval of ERTMS track-side equipment tenders have to be submitted to the ERA via the One-Stop-Shop(OSS)[1];
  • the applicant can still choose the relevant NSA as authorising entity if the area of use is limited to one Member State;
  • the ERA can outsource the processing of the applications to individual experts via a pool of external experts (incl. those of NSAs);
  • the recommendation of NSAs involved in the application procedure will have to be taken into consideration by the ERA with all approvals;
  • the ERA will charge fees & charges for the processing of the applications following a pre-defined calculation method;
  • in the case of a positive opinion, the ERA will grant the vehicle authorisation or the approval of the ERTMS track-side component tender to the applicant;
  • following the positive decision of the ERA, the NSA will then continue processing the ERTMS track-side equipment tendering.

More information:

[1]     Directive 2016/797 stipulates that all applications, whether they are national or international, will have to be submitted and processed via the ERA IT tool. This will then also involve cases which are handled by national actors only (i.e. the NSA and the national applicant) for national vehicle authorisations. This will imply that NSAs review their processes.