Committee of Transport and Tourism
This month is particularly good timing for a rolling stock special edition
At the end of January the European Commission finally published the long-awaited ‘Fourth Railway Package’ to create a Single European Railway Area – a single framework for railway operators across EU countries. A key element is a proposal to harmonise the byzantine process of type approvals and certification of traction and rolling stock. If successful, not only will it allow vast savings on administrative costs for manufacturers, operators and
national regulators but also help new entrants into the marketplace. In practice, the package should mean that the European Railway Agency can issue EU-wide authorisations allowing trains to be sold
and operate across all major networks within the EU Single Market.
Another proposal is EU-wide safety certifications. Both areas are at present administered by member states for their domestic networks.I am under no illusions that reaching agreement here is going to be difficult and take hard negotiation. But in a global marketplace with growing cost and competitive pressures, surely it is time Europe’s railway industry took full advantage of being the world’s largest standard gauge network. So far the package is just a Commission proposal. It is now up to the European Parliament and the Transport Committee (where I am a member) and the Council of Ministers, to take this forward. I hope we can make it happen.