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)


There are several open issues:

  • the EU has reduced the budget allocation for all EU agencies by 10%. This has an impact on available resources, the quality and quantity of vehicle authorisations to be processed, but also the future fees and charges to be applied by the ERA to the sector;
  • the EU is empowered to adopt implementing and delegated acts to change TSIs or vehicle authorisation processes. These ‘secondary acts’ follow a shorter timescale and a ‘limited’ consultation procedure. This means that changes could be more frequent, making the legal and technical framework less predictable;
  • the final details of the vehicle authorisation procedure must be adopted in November 2017 (implementation regulation on practical arrangements for vehicle authorisation) to allow for the preparation of the shadow running phase in mid-2018; 
  • Member States must have transposed Directive 2016/797 into national law to allow the sector to submit applications with the ERA. By December 2018, Member States must have communicated their date for the transition period;
  • the role of RINF in the route compatibility checks between RUs and IMs is considered by the GRB to be insufficient. The sector (CER, EIM, UNIFE, EPTTOLA, UIRR, FEDECRAIL) published a ‘RINF Vision Paper’ which has yet to be assessed by the EC and by ERA ;
  • national technical rules (NTRs) which have not been notified to the EC until 16th of June 2016 or do not comply with the new legislation and EU criteria will have to be deleted from the relevant register. Furthermore, national rules should not only be reduced but replaced by a harmonised European solution. The Single Rule Database tool which is due to contain all national rules after the cleaning up process is still to be created. This may create an unclear framework which rules apply and are in line with EU legislation;
  • current agreements of non-EU Member States (e.g. Switzerland, Norway and others) with EU Member States regulating vehicle authorisation and cross-acceptance procedures will become void and require these non-EU Member States to conclude an agreement directly with the ERA by June 2019.