Pio Guido (ERA): regulations can stimulate digital evolution
The European rail agency ERA is responsible for the standardization of technical systems and harmonization of safety approaches. According to Pio Guido, Head of Railway Systems at ERA, the central question is always: how to balance the freedom required for innovation with the rules required for the safe, interoperable functioning of European railways.
“To use its full potential as a green and safe mode of transport, railways need innovation, standardisation and investment,” said Mr Guido. “The strict regulatory framework and important legacy of national systems and practices should be seen as the context for evolution.”
One stop shop
ERA is the front desk for vehicle authorizations, ERTMS trackside approvals and safety certificates in Europe, and the system authority for interoperability specifications and safety methods of the European Union. Pio Guido is responsible within ERA for the department that deals with railway systems such as ERTMS. With the introduction of the Fourth Railway Package starting on June 16, 2019, all vehicle permits and all safety certificates in Europe must be issued according to one EU process. The implementation of this lies with ERA.
“More than 6,000 vehicles are now on the market with an authorisation issued by the agency. I see this as clear proof that railways in Europe can innovate as a system. We have excellent credentials as a green and safe mode of transport, but we are challenged to reach our full potential through the progress we see in other modes of transport and through technological innovation such as automation, digitization, Big Data and IoT.”
According to Guido, significant innovation rather than developments at the local level requires a coordinated approach with clear migration strategies and rights and obligations. “These elements need to be defined transparently well in advance and in some cases be maintained as mandatory requirements.
This is one of the main roles of the Agency. ”
ERTMS is one of the most striking examples of the complexity of enabling innovation, according to Guido. The program for this started at the end of the last century, but its implementation is still behind schedule despite the best efforts from the Member States. In his presentation at the RailTech Infra Forum in June this year, Pio Guido elaborates on the systems approach of ERTMS, ETCS and GSM-R as important pillars and the role of ERA in the rollout.
The step from GSM-R to successor FRMCS is a logical one, according to Guido this is a complex process. “Given the long planning and deployment cycles in the rail sector, it is necessary to identify a successor now and start planning the migration.”