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ERA Signs First Authorisation for New Generation Sleeper Trains: a Substantial Step for Reviving Night Trains in Europe

ERA Signs First Authorisation for New Generation Sleeper Trains: a Substantial Step for Reviving Night Trains in Europe

Published: 24 November 2023 Updated: 28 November 2023

On 24 November, the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) marked a significant milestone by formally authorising the first batch of new generation sleeper trains, which are being built by Siemens Mobility for ÖBB's Nightjet sleeper service. These trains represent the first new design of sleeper trains in Europe, signalling a long-awaited departure from decades of stagnation in sleeper train development.

Press release

The Vehicle Authorisation concerns 10 vehicle types representing 10 different coaches from Siemens Mobility. They will be operated by ÖBB for day and night traffic and represent the most visible sign that night rail trips are back, and a step forward in the revival of this type of travel. The availability of modern and well-equipped rolling stock is essential for seamless cross-border services, and the absence of suitable rolling stock could impede their introduction.

The authorisation granted today allows operation in DACHI area (Germany, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland) for day and night traffic, and the different vehicle types are each authorised as individual vehicles within  predefined train formations. The trains are designed for Central European long-distance travel and are based on the latest technologies.

The new wave of night trains has great potential to become a key player in the future multi-modal transport reality. Where good rail links exist, and suitable rolling stock is available, longer overnight journeys trains can offer a compelling alternative to the early morning flights. The authorisation signed today demonstrates that demand for long-distance cross-border passenger rail, including night trains, is growing fast, and that such services can be operated in a commercially viable open access manner. We are pleased that ERA is contributing to this transformation, supporting the railway sector to be agile and competitive, and paving the way for the night train revival, while advancing in creating a functional Single European Railway Area.

Background information

About the EU Agency for Railways: The European Union Agency for Railways was established in Valenciennes  in 2004, and has 200 employees representing more than 22 European Member States. 
ERA has been providing EU Member States and the European Commission with technical assistance in the development and implementation of the Single European Railway Area. This comprises enhancing technical interoperability and harmonising rules, promoting simplified access for customers, developing a common approach to safety and safety culture, advising on telematics applications and ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), monitoring National Safety Authorities and Notified Bodies and facilitating the exchange of information between the railway actors in Europe. 
Since 16th June 2019 the EU Agency for Railways is mandated to issue single safety certificates and vehicle (type) authorisations valid in multiple European countries and to ensure an interoperable European Rail Traffic Management System. 

Applications for Vehicle (type) Authorisations (VAs): Before a new or modified railway vehicle is permitted to operate on the EU railway network it must be authorised. An authorisation is granted for a vehicle and/or vehicle type (vehicle type authorisation) or for individual vehicles that conform to an already authorised vehicle type (vehicle authorisation for placing on the market).

The authorisation process allows the authorising entity to achieve a reasonable assurance that the applicant and the other entities involved in the design, manufacture, verification and validation of the vehicle and/or vehicle type have fulfilled their obligations and responsibilities, in order to ensure that the vehicle and/or vehicle type conforms to the applicable laws.
When identifying relevant rules, the applicant should take into account the relevant Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs), the applicable national rules and other applicable Union law (e.g. non-road mobile machinery emissions under Regulation (EU) 2016/1628).