European Railway Agency - ERA

Making the railway system work better for society.

Applications for single safety certificates

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Access to the railway infrastructure is granted only to railway undertakings that hold a valid single safety certificate.

The single safety certificate gives evidence that the railway undertaking has established its safety management system and is able to comply with its legal obligations.

A single safety certificate is valid for a given area of operation, i.e. a network or networks within one or more Member States where the railway undertaking intends to operate.

Who must apply for a single safety certificate?

The railway undertakings whose business is to transport goods and/or passengers, whether or not their activities are limited to providing traction only, must hold a valid single safety certificate to be granted access to the railway infrastructure.

How do I make an application?

Applicants should read the Commission Implementing Regulation establishing practical arrangements for issuing single safety certificates and the related ERA guidance, which provides information about the legislation, application process and what is required from the applicant.

The ERA application guide is supplemented by the application guide of the National Safety Authority or Authorities (NSAs) concerned by the intended area of operation. The national guide should describe and explain the national administrative procedures, including the documents to be submitted by the applicant to demonstrate compliance with the national rules, the applicable language policy of the NSA (or the Member State) and further information on the way to appeal against their decisions. Please refer to the website of the NSA for more information.

The application is made to the safety certification body. The process is the same no matter if ERA or the NSA is the safety certification body (single European process). In the case of rail operations in more than one Member State, ERA will be the safety certification body. Otherwise the applicant can choose whether to apply to ERA or to the relevant NSA.

All applications for a single safety certificate must be electronically submitted through the One-Stop Shop (OSS). This includes any new, update or renewal application for a single safety certificate.

Applicants can also submit a ‘pre-engagement’ application, which is optional for the applicant but mandatory for the safety certification body and/or the NSAs concerned with the area of operation, on request of the applicant. The ‘pre-engagement’ covers all prior formal exchanges of information between the applicant, the safety certification body, the concerned NSAs and other interested parties, before the actual submission of the application. This allows the applicant to obtain an opinion from the safety certification body concerning the approach proposed by the applicant at an early stage of the process.

In its role as safety certification body as well as during the “pre-engagement” stage, the Agency applies an hourly rate of 130 Euro pursuant to Articles 1 and 3 of Commission implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/764 of 2 May 2018 on the fees and charges payable to the European Union Agency for Railways and their conditions of payment.

The calculation of the fees and charges is foreseen in Article 3 of the aforementioned Regulation.

To consult the NSAs’ rates relevant for establishing the costs charged to the Agency, please refer to each NSA.

If you are a potential applicant or assessor and wish to follow a training session on the OSS organised by the Agency, please consult the OSS Training guidelines

Where can I find the decision about my application?

All decisions following an application for a single safety certificate can be found in the One-Stop Shop (OSS). The applicant can only access information pertaining to its respective applications.

The single safety certificates are published in the European Railway Agency Database of Interoperability and Safety (ERADIS).

When does the new safety certification regime apply?

The new safety certification regime applies as of 16 June 2019 with transitional provisions.

Transitional provisions apply in the case where a National Safety Authority (NSA) recognises that it will not be able to take its decision over the issue of a safety certificate in accordance with Directive 2004/49/EC before either 16 June 2019 or, 16 June 2020 in respect of those Member States that have notified the Agency and the Commission in accordance with Article 33(2) of Directive (EU) 2016/798 or, 31 October 2020 in respect of those Member States that have notified the Agency and the Commission in accordance with Article 33(2)(a) of Directive (EU) 2016/798.

More information can be found in the clarification note on the transposition dates of the 4th Railway package.

The decisions issued by the Agency between 16 June 2019 and 31 October 2020 should exclude the network(s) of any Member States having not yet transposed Directive (EU) 2016/798 and of Switzerland until further notice. However, a single safety certificate issued by the Agency should be recognised within the EU as equivalent to a Part A safety certificate issued under Directive 2004/49/EC whilst the NSA should continue to issue its Part B safety certificate with a validity period not exceeding the one of the corresponding single safety certificate issued by the Agency.

Can I submit an application which includes border stations (or sections)?

Although there is no definition of border station (or section) in Directive (EU) 2016/798, it is stipulated in its Article 10(8) that “the single safety certificate shall also be valid without an extension of the area of operations for railway undertakings travelling to stations in neighbouring Member States with similar network characteristics and similar operating rules, when those stations are close to the border”.

Before submitting an application that includes one or more border stations (or sections), it is strongly recommended to liaise first with the concerned national safety authorities to confirm a cooperation agreement exists between them. In absence of such an agreement, the applicant will be requested to extend its area of operation to include the Member State in which the border station (or section) is located.