ERA and SNCB celebrate 50,000 vehicles authorised at European level
The European Union Railway Agency (ERA) and the Belgian National Railway Company (SNCB) recently celebrated an important milestone in the implementation of the 4th railway package, with the delivery of more than 50,000 vehicle authorisations at the European level. This major step forward has created the Single European Railway Area and facilitated cross-border rail traffic.
Since June 2019, the ERA has been responsible for issuing vehicle authorisations valid in all EU Member States, a process that has proven to have a positive impact on cross-border rail traffic and on the implementation of ERTMS. SNCB is the operator of the 50,000th vehicle authorised by the ERA.
The European Union’s technical pillar implementation aims to simplify and streamline the process of authorising new or modified railway vehicles to operate on the EU railway network. The implementation creates a ‘one-stop shop’ IT tool that acts as a single-entry point for all applications, reducing the number of costly multiple applications required for vehicle authorizations and safety certificates in operations beyond one Member State.
It also ensures that European Rail Traffic Management System equipment is interoperable and reduces the large number of national rules, mitigating the risk of insufficient transparency and discrimination against new railway undertakings. The authorisation process aims to provide reasonable assurance that all entities involved in the design, manufacture, verification and validation of the vehicle have fulfilled their obligations and responsibilities to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle.
The ERA is now the main authoriser of rail vehicles in the EU, with a share of almost 60 per cent of all applications. The authorisations issued mainly concern wagons (83 per cent), but also train sets and coaches (11 per cent), locomotives (6 per cent) and special vehicles (0.2 per cent). Approximately 54 per cent of the authorisations processed by ERA concern railway vehicles operating throughout the EU, 27 per cent concern more than one Member State and 19 per cent concern a single Member State. The issuing of vehicle authorisations by ERA has a direct impact on cross-border traffic and on the implementation of ERTMS, thus contributing to the creation of a more efficient and harmonious single European railway area.
Ceremony at Brussels South Station
A ceremony in honour of this milestone took place on 27 April 2023, on platform 5 of the Gare du Midi in Brussels. Josef Doppelbauer, Executive Director of the ERA, Elzbieta Lukaniuk, member of the cabinet of Adina Valean, European Commissioner for Transport, and Gerd De Vos, Executive Director of Technics SNCB, were present.
“The 50 000th vehicle authorised by ERA was for SNCB, which also operates it, thus our choice to celebrate this major milestone in Brussels, in one of the major railway stations in Europe, is a powerful metaphor, a symbol of our work and its positive impact, visible on the tracks, bringing added value to European businesses and citizens,” said Mr Josef Doppelbauer, ERA Executive Director, adding that “the authorisation process, as it takes place today, is harmonised across Europe, accessible, transparent, and predictable, an institutional locomotive that takes us every day closer to fulfilling our vision: One Europe, One Railway.”
Gerd De Vos, Executive Director Technics SNCB, stressed that: “For SNCB, the 50.000th approval conducted of ERA has a strong symbolic value. By delivering vehicle approvals and safety certificates, ERA contributes to reinforce passengers’ trust in rail transport and it also helps improve the competitive position of rail transport as the backbone of sustainable mobility in Europe. To give this 50.000th approval in Brussels is also symbolic since the latter is a hub for the European railway network. SNCB has the ambition of making Belgium, and especially Brussels, a true international railway hub with fast links to major European cities.”