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Roberts Zile welcomes informal deal on the technical part of the 4th Railway Package

18 June 2015

Roberts Zile welcomes informal deal on the technical part of the 4th Railway Package

Yesterday night European Parliament and the Council reached an informal deal on so-called “technical pillar” of the 4th Railway Package, containing directives on safety and interoperability, and the regulation on the European Railway Agency (ERA).

Yesterday night European Parliament and the Council reached an informal deal on so-called “technical pillar” of the 4th Railway Package, containing directives on safety and interoperability, and the regulation on the European Railway Agency (ERA).

Roberts Zīle, rapporteur on the ERA regulation, welcomes the deal about the dual system of authorisation of vehicles and safety certifications of railway undertakings, because it leaves choice for companies: those who will use wagons only in one country’s railway network will have the choice to apply for authorisation of vehicles either in the ERA or in national safety authorities, while those vehicles to be used in cross-border operations will have to be authorised by the ERA. The same system for safety certification of railway undertakings will apply – the ERA will issue safety certificates for railway undertakings operating in more than one Member State, but where the area of operation is limited to one Member State, the applicant may choose to submit a request for certification either to the Agency or to the national safety authority. This dual model will help to ensure competitive and business friendly environment for actors in all parts of the market.

Roberts Zile: “The railway industry has been waiting for this new legislation for a long time, as the European railway sector still faces continuous problems such as barriers to competition, discrimination and a lack of dynamic business-friendly environment. New legislation will lead to more harmonised rules on interoperability and safety and a more open EU railway market. The ERA will play a greater role in authorization of wagons and locomotives as well as certification of railway undertakings. Its role will also be strengthened with regard to moving towards a system of truly transparent and impartial railway rules at Union level and a gradual reduction in national rules.

Sometimes the role of some European agencies is rather disputable and not very clear, but in the case of the ERA – a strong, well-equipped and efficient railway agency is a precondition to ensure the development and functioning of European transport market, and especially in the railway sector.”

In addition, new legislation will facilitate railway carriages in the so-called “isolated railway network” in Baltic States, which are a well-integrated part in the wide 1520 mm gauge network covering Russia and CIS countries, however isolated from the EU railway network. The main problem – fragmentation of this isolated railway market and lack of cooperation of all three Member States to ensure real interoperability between them (based on common technical and operational requirements) – will be addressed as national authorities of all three Baltic countries will be requested to conclude with the Agency a multilateral agreement laying down conditions by which a vehicle authorization and safety certificates issued in one of these Member States is valid also for the other two.

Roberts Zile: “Three Baltic States have inherited common technical and operational requirements, which provide de facto interoperability between them therefore there shouldn’t be formal administrative barriers to allow, for example, to go with one locomotive from Vilnius to Tallinn, without unnecessary extra authorisation in each country. If that mutual cooperation of national authorities will be successful, the isolated network of the Baltic States will become more integrated and our railway companies will not face excessive financial and administrative burdens for authorisation and certification procedures”.

The informal deal on the 4th railway package technical pillar files still needs to be approved by the Council COREPER and Parliament’s TRAN committee, and afterwards it has to be adopted by the Council and European Parliament plenary vote.

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