European Railway Agency - ERA

Making the railway system work better for society.


The Executive Director is leading the Agency in fulfilling its mission and strategic goals. The Executive Director Office (EDO) is responsible for supporting the Executive Director in taking informed and sound decisions, setting work priorities and allocates resources efficiently.

The EDO supports the Executive Director also in the daily operations of the Agency. In particular, it  is responsible for:

  • Setting up, maintaining and controlling the accounting system of the Agency;
  • Providing expertise, specific advice and overseeing all legal matters;
  • Setting the internal control framework and organizing audits and performance evaluations on the Agency’s work.

The Railway System Department is the centre of Railway System Competence for the Agency.

Divided in three different units, the RSY department covers:

  • Railway safety and operations matters;
  • Railway Interoperability of vehicles and infrastructure;
  • ERTMS.

For this, the RSY aims to drive the evolution of the SERA Target System Architecture in terms of specifications, verification and certification processes, identifying the research needs for the future target Railway System.

The RSY is also responsible for developing proposals and supporting the sector to optimise the evolution of the SERA Target Railway system exploiting the most viable solutions for further technical and operational interoperability. Besides, the RSY is tasked with the maintenance and, to a feasible extent, the improvement of the safety and overall performance of the railway system.

Another RSY mission is to act as the corporate memory for the evolution of SERA Railway System Architecture, and as the System Authority for ERTMS and Telematic Applications for Passenger and Freight.

Last but not least, the RSY aims to ensure the consistency of technical decisions taken across the different Units and Teams of the Agency.

The Fixed Installations and Rolling Stock (FIRST) Unit enables the Agency to fulfill its duty in the fields of Infrastructure, Energy, Locomotives & Passenger Carriages, Wagon, Safety in Railway Tunnels, Noise and Persons with Reduced Mobility.

In particular, the Unit is in charge of:

  • The maintenance of the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs) for the subsystems under its responsibility that define the mandatory requirements for ensuring the interoperability of the railway system of the European Union.
  • The management of the National Technical rules for ensuring that the national legislations are in line with the essential requirements for the railway system and with the harmonised requirements contained in the EU legislations.
  • Providing support to the Notified conformity assessment bodies and the European Standards Organisations for the development of supplementary documents (European Standards, Questions and Clarifications) linked to the TSIs scope.

The core competences in FIRST Unit are also contributing to other Agency’s activities, notably related to Vehicle Authorisation, dissemination and research.


The main objective of the Safety and Operations (SAFO) Unit is to support the organisations that form part of the railway socio-technical system (NSA, NIB, RU/IM, ECM, etc.) in developing the capability to manage safety in a sustainable way, combining anticipation and resilience,and to reach operational excellence of the entire European railway area

Achieving this, will require both more explicit (SMS, MMS, processes, technology, …) and less tangible (strategy, leadership, culture, …) elements of safety management being addressed together. 

To this end, the SAFO Unit wants to actively support railway stakeholders through a set of activities that aim at:

  1. Building and/or enhancing safety management knowledge, based on operational practice as well as progressive research to establish a common understanding;
  2. Helping to regulate railway practice through the development of legislation (e.g. CSM, ECM certification), the removal of barriers towards operational harmonisation (e.g. Technical Opinions, AMOC), guidance (incl. RFUs), cooperation networks, etc.
  3. Supporting the understanding and correct implementation of the EU legislative framework (raise awareness, disseminate, train, consult, …)
  4. Evaluate the maturity of implementation and safety management at different levels.

Finally, the SAFO Unit also lends its knowledge for the development and delivery of assessment activities in PAD and A&M.

More information on our activities can be found on the dedicated pages:

The ERTMS and Telematics Application Unit enables the Agency to fulfill its role of System Authority for the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and for the Telematics Application for Freight (TAF) and for Passengers (TAP).

ERTMS includes the European Train Control System (ETCS), and the voice and telecommunication system for the railways (GSM-R). The Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) for the subsystem Control Command and Signalling (CCS) are the legal framework defining the requirements for the implementation of the ERTMS; they make reference to the detailed specification documents available in the dedicated pages of the Agency website.

The TSI for TAP and for TAF defines the legal framework for the implementation of the telematics applications, their governance and make reference to the detailed Technical Documents available in the dedicated ERA webpages.

ERTMS and Telematics Applications rely on data communication and data processing systems, for which detailed requirements are laid down – the life cycle of such systems, taking account of technological evolution, introduction of new functionality and improvements from return of experience make the life cycle of those systems considerably faster than most other subsystem in the railway. Dedicated Change Control Management systems are in place for the TAP, TAF Technical Documents and for the ERTMS specifications, to ensure that the experts of the Sector and of the Agency can process efficiently and timely the requests for changing the detailed technical requirements.

A key element of the interoperable digital railway system is the radio communication: the development of 5G technologies represent an opportunity to migrate the existing GSM-R system and one of the key activities of the unit is to define the requirements for the future radio communication system for the railways.

The core competences in ETCS and GSM-R are available to the Agency for the different activities, notably to deliver Vehicle Authorisation and ERTMS Trackside Approval projects, as well as the coordination in the field of research and cybersecurity.

The Analysis and Monitoring (A&M) is the Unit of the Agency mainly focusing on railway data collection, analysis and reporting, with an eye on research and new technologies.

Its main objective is building fact-based knowledge to ensure a factual decision making for the stakeholders and the Agency.

To this end, A&M collects and delivers objective and credible evidence through:

  • Management and analysis of railway system data;
  • Ex-ante and ex-post impact assessment;
  • Monitoring of National Safety Authorities and Notified Bodies; and
  • Evaluation activities.

The A&M Unit coordinates the Agency’s research activities on railway matters and supports partner organisations in research and innovation. The objective is to support the technical progress of the Single European Railway Area.

Finally, A&M communicates consistently and effectively its findings both within the Agency and to external stakeholders through ad-hoc and periodic reports.

The “Executive Office and Communication” (EXO) is the Unit that takes care of the strategic development of the Agency defining key priorities together with the Agency units/department, the stakeholders, the management board and the Executive Director.

Are part of the EXO Unit:

  • Corporate management and Integrated Management System (IMS);
  • Communication;
  • Digital communication and ERA Academy;
  • International.

The Corporate management and IMS team activities are linked with setting up and monitoring:

  • The relevant Agency strategies;
  • The budget and the work programme of the Agency.

all in coherence with the vision of the Executive Director.

The Communication team takes care of institutional publications, internal communication and internal events, relations with the press and crisis communication.

The Digital communication and ERA Academy team work to ensure the right presence on the web and on the social media. It is responsible for setting up and managweing the training centre of the Agency, including the organisation events and conferences.

It is also an EXO task to care about international relations, i.e. cooperation of the Agency with stakeholders within and outside EU.

The Finance and Procurement Unit (FPU) provides the Agency with services aiming to support its daily functioning for aspects related to Finance and Procurement matters.

The FPU ensures sound and transparent financial management and procurement procedures.

It also provides support and expertise on financial files, public procurement and contracts, in accordance with the EU Financial regulation.

In the Agency the Planning and Approvals Delivery Unit (PAD) is the programme and project delivery and technical assistance hub for the following areas of work:

  • Vehicle (type) authorisations;
  • Single safety certificates; and
  • ERTMS trackside approval.

PAD’s role is to ensure the sound management of the processes above thereby enhancing the reputation of the Agency and delivering the proper functioning of the Single European Railway Area in accordance with the goals set out in the 4th Railway Package.

In addition, PAD also ensures Agency-wide programme and project portfolio management and control to ensure the efficient planning and resourcing of projects at ERA and the achievement of their objectives respectively.

PAD also has a significant role in reporting to the EXO Unit on the implementation of the Agency single programming document within its area of expertise.

The Resources and Support Unit (RSU) provides the Agency with services aiming to support its daily functioning for aspects related to:

  • Human Resources Management;
  • Information Technology; and
  • Facilities Management.

In particular, the RSU implements and monitors human various human resources policies and practicies ensuring efficient selection, recruitment, training and career management  and its administrative implications.

The Resources and Support Unit also manages the Agency’s premises, taking care of the maintenance, cleaning and security services.

It also coordinates and operates the IT infrastructure, which delivers and maintains information and communication technology solutions to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of the Agency.