First of all I hope you and those close to you are safe and healthy in these demanding times. We feel strong compassion with those who are adversely affected by the current pandemic. We fully support the measures taken by the European Commission and the Member States, while at the same time maintaining our services to the European railway sector. Even though working remotely, our staff is doing the utmost to keep all services running.
2019 is coming to an end. For the EU Agency for Railways it has been a challenging year. Both ERA staff and the European railway sector have gone through a tremendous learning curve, implementing the new EU railway legislation.
100 days into our new role as European authority, our teams have been working hard to deliver efficiency and provide a speedy and comprehensive service for EU-wide vehicle authorisation, safety certification, and ERTMS trackside approval using the One-Stop Shop.
At this milestone, it is a matter close to my heart to express my sincere respect and gratitude to all railway actors that have contributed to this achievement: the representatives of industry and customers, the sector organisations, the NSAs in each member state, the European Commission and our staff in Valenciennes.
Safe – connected – affordable. Do you remember these words? They have guided the SERA Conferences which ERA and the European Commission organised in 2017 to discuss with all railway stakeholders the upcoming changes which the Fourth Railway Package (4RP) will bring.
Already since 2015, the Agency has been preparing the implementation of the technical pillar of the Fourth Railway Package. Together with the National Safety Authorities and the representatives of the European rail sector, we have been doing our best to communicate the fundamental change that is coming to the European rail sector with this legal package
Rail safety touches the very essence of our business. We can proudly say that rail is the safest mode of land transport, but the impressive safety record of past decades (largely achieved through technical progress) is overshadowed by singular accidents with often tragic consequences, leaving surviving dependants in terrible grief, and the reputation of the entire European rail system damaged.
The 4th Railway Package is the single most important piece of legislation in the history of European railways – and in 2018, pressure is rising as fundamental change is imminent.For the first time ever, there will be EU-wide vehicle authorisation, safety certification, and ERTMS trackside approval. But we are not there, yet – and time is running fast, and the challenges are steep.