On 14 March 2014, the EU Council of Transport Ministers agreed that the European Railway Agency (ERA) would act as a 'one-stop shop' for safety certification and vehicle authorisation.

This measure is one of the many technical changes envisaged by the Fourth Railway Package. It seeks to open up competition in the European rail sector and enhance the efficiency and quality of cross-border rail services.

Under the current regulatory regime, manufacturers and operators of rolling stock are subject to regulation by each member state they operate in and consequently need to obtain certificates for operation in each country. Obtaining rolling stock approvals can, therefore, be a time consuming and costly process which can discourage potential new entrants from joining the rolling stock market.

The Fourth Railway Package seeks to alleviate this administrative burden by empowering the ERA to issue single European-wide safety certificates to operators and single European vehicle authorisations. This will enable manufacturers to sell, and railway undertakings to operate, trains across Europe without having to secure national level permissions.

Where a railway undertaking is involved only in national operations, it can choose whether to submit a request for authorisation and certification to the ERA or to the relevant National Safety Authority. The ERA will also carry out audits and inspections of the National Safety Authorities (including the ORR in the UK) to assess how the regulatory regime is being implemented and monitored. It is hoped that this will ensure that a more consistent approach is applied across member states and deliver a greater level of harmonisation across the EU rail network.

On 14 March 2014, the EU Council of Transport Ministers agreed that the European Railway Agency (ERA) would act as a 'one-stop shop' for safety certification and vehicle authorisation.

This measure is one of the many technical changes envisaged by the Fourth Railway Package. It seeks to open up competition in the European rail sector and enhance the efficiency and quality of cross-border rail services.

Under the current regulatory regime, manufacturers and operators of rolling stock are subject to regulation by each member state they operate in and consequently need to obtain certificates for operation in each country. Obtaining rolling stock approvals can, therefore, be a time consuming and costly process which can discourage potential new entrants from joining the rolling stock market.

The Fourth Railway Package seeks to alleviate this administrative burden by empowering the ERA to issue single European-wide safety certificates to operators and single European vehicle authorisations. This will enable manufacturers to sell, and railway undertakings to operate, trains across Europe without having to secure national level permissions.

Where a railway undertaking is involved only in national operations, it can choose whether to submit a request for authorisation and certification to the ERA or to the relevant National Safety Authority. The ERA will also carry out audits and inspections of the National Safety Authorities (including the ORR in the UK) to assess how the regulatory regime is being implemented and monitored. It is hoped that this will ensure that a more consistent approach is applied across member states and deliver a greater level of harmonisation across the EU rail network.

Lydia Cullimore