ERA, as an European Union (EU) agency, is governed by EU public law but operates independently from the EU Institutions (Council, Parliament, Commission etc.) and has its own legal personality. The European Commission is, however, a crucial institutional stakeholder for ERA and a partner in the implementation of its mandate.
Representative bodies include organisations and associations that represent the railway sector, rail workers, freight customers and passengers.
ERA engages in cooperation activities with the following organisations:
ERA also takes an active role in the EUMedRail project, set up by the European Commission , by providing technical assistance in railways, with a view on further developing an integrated, safe and efficient transport system in the South Mediterranean region.
ERA cooperates with the European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs) in order to ensure coordination between the development of the technical specifications for interoperability and their standardisation activities. This cooperation mainly hinges on the following organisations:
In application of the standardisation mandate given by the European Commission to ESOs and of the Memorandum of Understanding between ERA and ESOs, ERA issue the necessary requests for development of new standards and follow the evolution of the resulting standards.
ERA cooperates with the coordination group of notified bodies for railway products and systems (NB-RAIL) to collect feedback on the exercise of their duties and propose and promote appropriate improvements.
The notified bodies are independent organisations responsible for assessing the conformity of interoperability constituents and subsystems regarding the requirements of the technical specifications for interoperability.
The NB-Rail representatives are also active in the Conformity Survey Group (CSG). The CSG has been specifically established to discuss about the conformance part of the technical specifications for interoperability.
ERA is also invited as observer at the NB-Rail meetings (plenary, strategic and subgroup).
ERA cooperates with the Organisation for Co-operation between Railways (OSJD) to analyse the relationship between the 1435 mm and the 1520/1524 mm railway systems as far as technical and operational aspects are concerned, together with a strategic evaluation on the possibility of future convergence between the two systems (keeping apart the gauge differences).
Nowadays, collaboration activities are focused on:
Perspectives of ERA-OSJD collaboration envisage that relevant provisions of all the technical specifications for interoperability will be compared to existing 1520/1524 mm requirements.
The outcomes of the joint ERA-OSJD work (ERA-OSJD Contact Group) contribute to the revision process of technical specifications for interoperability.
ERA assists the European Commission in its cooperation with the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) to establish and maintain equivalence between the European Union (EU) and OTIF legislation concerning railway interoperability and safety to the extent necessary for international rail traffic.
The purpose of this cooperation is to facilitate the rail transport services and recognition of authorisations for placing in service and admission to operation between the EU Member States and non-EU OTIF Contracting States.
To streamline this process, ERA, OTIF and European Commission signed administrative arrangements. These arrangements allow all the parties to better plan their activities of common interest and to prioritise the tasks using their resources efficiently.
In coordination with the European Commission , ERA is promoting a further harmonised approach to Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) safety and interoperability.
With this aim, ERA assists the European Commission in the representation of EU positions in meetings organised by UNECE and OTIF , notably for achieving consistent development of the legislation dealing with the TDG by rail within the meaning of Directive 2008/68/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.
When necessary, this assistance may also include issuing recommendations at Commission's request or on ERA’s own initiative.
In parallel to legislative developments, ERA also coordinates the Inland TDG risk management framework with the collaboration of interested organisations, including the experts of the UNECE/OTIF Joint Meeting on RID/ADR/ADN.
The Agency cooperates with regulatory agencies in four countries (United States of America, Australia, Brazil and Japan) as well as with the Gulf Cooperation Council. Activities are focused on exchanging information, best practice and scientific/technical knowledge.
The interaction with ERA's peer organisations includes video/phone conferences and technical dialogue sessions between experts when topics of mutual interest and benefit have been identified.
The EUMedRail project is aimed at southern Mediterranean states (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine* and Tunisia), some of which are also members of OTIF.
The purpose of this project is to improve the operations and the efficiency of the Mediterranean transport system by concentrating its efforts on regulatory reforms, training, and dialogue with the decision-makers.
This EU-funded project helps: