European Railway Agency - ERA

Making the railway system work better for society

4th Railway Package

The 4th Railway Package is a set of legislative texts designed to complete the single market for rail services (Single European Railway Area). Its overarching goal is to revitalise the rail sector and make it more efficient and therefore competitive vis-à-vis other modes of transport.

The 'technical pillar', which was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in April 2016, enhances the role of the Agency by introducing new tasks to ensure a uniform implementation of the EU framework. It includes:

Further information on the legislation can be found in all EU languages on EUR-LEX website.

The technical pillar is designed to boost the competitiveness of the European railway sector by significantly reducing the costs and the administrative burden for cross-border rail services. In particular, it will:

  • save businesses from having to file costly multiple applications for vehicle authorisations and safety certificates in the case of operations beyond one single member state
  • create a ‘one-stop shop’ IT tool which will act as a single entry point for all such applications, using easy, transparent and consistent procedures
  • ensure that European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) equipment is interoperable
  • reduce the large number of remaining national rules, which create a risk of insufficient transparency and disguised discrimination of new railway undertakings.

The technical pillar of the 4th Railway Package brings the following main changes:

  • A renewed framework for railway safety aiming at promoting safety culture
  • An harmonised approach to safety certification where single safety certificates are granted to railway undertakings for the whole area of operation rather than having Part A and Part B certificates
  • A new harmonised framework for vehicle authorisation
  • A harmonised implementation of ERTMS in the Union with a prior check that the ERTMS trackside technical solutions envisaged are fully compliant with the relevant Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs) and are therefore fully interoperable
  • An enhanced role for the Agency in the EU rail system:
    • The Agency will issue vehicle authorisations and safety certificates, and approve ERTMS trackside technical solutions
    • The Agency will also be responsible for managing the ‘one-stop shop’ IT tool through which all application files for vehicle authorisations, safety certificates and ERTMS trackside approvals shall be submitted
  • New approach for checking the technical compatibility of the vehicle with the route
  • Clearer safety responsibilities for the different actors of the railway system
  • More transparent identification of national rules.

The changes brought by the technical pillar of the 4th Railway Package will affect anyone who:

  • manufactures or modifies railway vehicles
  • authorises vehicles and fixed installations and grants safety certificates
  • operates trains
  • manages infrastructure
  • regulates railway safety or interoperability.

ERA can identify the need to call for external experts in order to assist it in its assessment tasks after receiving an application for a vehicle authorisation or a safety certificate. External experts may be staff members of the national safety authorities designated by their employer or independent experts. In both cases, those experts must fulfil the same competency requirements.

Regulation (EU) 2018/764 lays down the fees and charges payable to the Agency for the processing of applications (single safety certificates, vehicle authorisations, ERTMS trackside approval).