Transport Council lights the way to a breakthrough in European rail research and gives green light for the ERA Regulation
14 March 2014 • Author: The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies
A satisfying compromise was found today by Europe´s Transport Ministers for the legal framework of the Shift²Rail Joint Undertaking, well balancing the needs of railway undertakings and infrastructure managers as well as the European railway manufactures and suppliers. CER also notes a step forward being made with the ERA regulation and encourages all actors keeping a strong European focus in the upcoming trialogue discussions.
The decision taken on Shift²Rail is the next important milestone for a breakthrough approach in the framework of Horizon 2020. The relay is now passed on to the European Commission for drafting the Shift²Rail Master Plan. With the legal framework being shaped, the railway sector now calls all European institutions and other entities involved to define the detailed strategic goals of tomorrow’s European railway sector including the standardisation of spare parts. Shift²Rail shall help to realise real interoperability of a safe European railway system.
The Council further agreed on a general approach regarding a proposal intended to define new tasks to be carried out by the European Railway Agency. The draft regulation is part of the Fourth Railway Package and will turn the Agency from a purely regulatory institution into the European railway authority responsible for vehicle authorisation and safety certification. CER supports the principle of trust and confidence between the ERA and the national safety authorities but underlines the need for clear decision-making processes with the Agency as final decision-making body. In addition, CER would like to see the spare parts coordination to be re-added to the Agency’s mandate and that the Board of Appeal’s decisions are fully binding. The European Aviation Safety Agency has already implemented this principle and CER recommends following this good example.
CER Executive Director Libor Lochman added: “I appreciate the work of the Greek Presidency and the whole Transport Council as they managed to handle well two dossiers of high importance to the rail sector: Shift²Rail and the revision of the Regulation establishing the European Railway Agency. The Council’s decision shows the right approach for rail research and the opportunity to re-vitalise the European rail system in technical terms. The legal framework for interoperability and safety as well as the ERA regulation still needs to be optimised and finalised in the trialogue discussions.”