European Railway Agency - ERA

Making the railway system work better for society.

National Rules

National rules refer to all binding rules adopted in a Member State, irrespective of the body issuing them, which contain railway safety or technical requirements, other than those laid down by Union or international rules, and which are applicable within that Member State to railway undertakings, infrastructure managers or third parties.

National rules often include requirements which are partly relevant for both interoperability and safety purposes. This explains why the terms ‘national safety rules’ and ‘national technical rules’, as defined in former Directive 2004/49/EC and Directive 2008/57/EC respectively, are now replaced by the concept of ‘national rules’.

National rules may be applied in addition to European rules only under certain conditions, as defined in Directive (EU) 2016/797 and in Directive (EU) 2016/798, e.g. when they relate to the placing on the market or placing in service of structural subsystems, the operation of the Union rail system, the role of the actors, the safety certification, the safety authorisation and the accident investigation.

National rules, which are often based on national technical standards, are being gradually replaced by rules based on common standards, established by Common Safety Methods (CSMs) and Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs). In order to eliminate the obstacles to interoperability, the volume of national rules, including operating rules, is expected be reduced as a consequence of extending the scope of the TSIs to the whole of the Union rail system and of closing open points in the TSIs. For that purpose, Member States should keep their system of national rules updated, delete obsolete rules and inform the European Commission and the Agency thereof without delay.

Any new national rules must be notified by the Member States.

All applicable national rules are publically available:

  • The applicable national rules for the vehicle authorisation are published in the Reference Documents Database (RDD)
  • The applicable national rules for the authorisation of fixed installations and national rules notified under Directive (EU) 2016/798 are available in NOTIF-IT
  • The applicable national rules for ETCS and GSM-R are available here.

According to its ‘rules cleaning-up programme’, ERA examines the existing national rules in the Member States in order to ensure that only allowed national rules are applicable.

ERA is developing the Single Rules Database (SRD) that will replace the above registers. The SRD will be the unique tool for the notification of all draft national rules and all existing national rules.