One of ERA’s strategic objectives is to improve economic efficiency and societal benefits of railways. We therefore place high importance on collecting and delivering objective and credible evidence to support sound decision making.
Evidence is collected and used across the streams of work related to regulatory ex ante impact assessments accompanying Agency’s recommendations and opinions, ex post evaluations as well as analyses and studies for emerging topics. These rely on the monitoring of the Single European Railway Area, with data being regularly collected, checked for quality, analysed and used for deriving meaningful conclusions.
An important success factor for fostering the progress with interoperability and safety is played by the monitoring of the relevant organisations, in particular the national safety authorities and the notified bodies and the subsequent measures derived from this monitoring.
In line with the requirement of Regulation (EU) 2016/796, the Agency performs ex ante impact assessments of its recommendations and opinions forwarded to the EC. These follow the impact assessment methodology adopted by the Management Board, which is inspired by the EC Better Regulation Guidelines.
In a nutshell, we start all our ex ante impact assessments with a good understanding of the problem to be addressed, including its magnitude and the stakeholders affected, and look into possible alternative solutions. The Agency provides a transparent set of qualitative and quantitative evidence for the comparison of alternative options in order to facilitate decision making on the best suited option, taking into account the perspectives of all relevant stakeholders involved.
Ex ante impact assessments can be retrieved together with the recommendations and opinions that they accompany.
Once a recommendation or a set of recommendations have been in force for a specific period of time, ex post evaluations can be performed in order to understand the efficiency and effectiveness of the measures implemented and the possible needs for future action.
The Agency has an agile approach to managing its work priorities and resources. To this end, before including an activity in the programming document adopted by the Management Board, the Agency is conducting early impact assessments on the problems to be solved and the expected Agency contribution, as well as on the resources required.
Such high-level, early assessment impacts are taken into consideration when drafting the Single Programming Document .
Digitalisation, big data, (cyber)security, combined transport, automated train operation, satellite positioning – and the list is definitely open – are important topics in which the Agency is interested as they can shape in one way or another the scope of our activities.
We strive for being up-to-date with the latest developments and for following further the ones which are relevant for our current and future mandates.Women in Transport Platform and signatory of the Declaration to ensure equal opportunities for women and men in the transport sector, the Agency is involved, together with the EC DG Move and the railway sector, in better understanding the current limitations and the future levers for equal opportunities in the rail transport system.
The Agency monitors the progress on the safety and interoperability of the EU rail system, as mandated by Regulation (EU) 2016/796. Every two years we present to the EC and publish a report on progress on safety and interoperability in the Single European Railway Area .
In the field of safety, it is important to ensure the greatest possible transparency and an effective flow of information. We therefore carry out and publish an analysis of performance, based on Common Safety Indicators (CSIs) and linking all parties in the sector.
The Agency takes into account the contribution of the national investigation bodies to the safety of the EU rail system, collects relevant data on accidents and incidents and analyses the NIB reports for drawing and sharing relevant conclusions.
To the extent to which evidence is available, we also strive to look into the effects generated by ERA’s activities in the rail sector. In this respect, the report on progress on safety and interoperability also captures railway outcome and impact indicators.
Data is retrieved from the Agency’s registers and databases as well as from external sources. The Agency values the assistance in the form of data collection from the national safety authorities, national investigation bodies and the network of representative bodies. Completeness and quality checks are performed in order to maximize the data reliability and traceability.
The Agency also draws on the data collected by Eurostat and cooperates with Eurostat to prevent any duplication of work and to ensure methodological consistency between the CSIs and the indicators used in other modes of transport. A Memorandum of understanding between ERA and Eurostat was signed in 2016 in order to ensure a structured framework for this cooperation.
ERA monitors the performance and decision-making of national safety authorities through audit and inspections, on behalf of the EC, as mandated by Regulation (EU) 2016/796. The Agency is entitled to audit the capacity of national safety authorities to execute tasks relating to railway safety and interoperability as well as the effectiveness of the monitoring by national safety authorities of safety management systems of actors as referred to Directive (EU) 2016/798.
To this purpose, Agency’s Management Board has adopted in 2017 the policy, working methods, procedures and practical arrangements for NSA monitoring.
ERA supports the EC in monitoring the notified conformity assessment bodies through the provision of assistance to accreditation bodies and to the relevant national authorities, and through audits and inspections. In the case of notified conformity assessment bodies which are not accredited, the Agency may audit their capacity to meet the requirements laid down in Directive (EU) 2016/797.
The procedure for performing audits to the notified conformity assessment bodies has been adopted by the Agency’s Management Board in 2017.
The evidence collected alongside these monitoring activities is very useful in order to trigger actions for improving the effectiveness of the respective bodies in performing their tasks in the field of safety and/or interoperability.
Moreover, the Agency is committed to continuous internal improvement, by performing the monitoring, review and optimisation of its internal processes in order to best cope with the challenges of the new tasks entrusted under the 4th Railway Package.