The licensing scheme used for the certification of the entities in charge with the maintenance of freight wagons pertains to the European Railway Agency in compliance with the regulations of the European Co-operation for Accreditation (EA). It is accepted by the European Commission and implements the provisions of (EU) Regulation no. 445/2011.
Taking into account the wide variety of design and maintenance methods, this system of maintenance should be a process-oriented system. The assessment by a certification body of an application for an ECM certificate is an assessment of the applicant’s ability to manage maintenance activities and to deliver the operational functions of maintenance either by itself or through contracts with other bodies, such as maintenance workshops, charged with delivering these functions or parts of these functions. An ECM certificate shall be valid for a period up to 5 years. Following contractual arrangements, a railway operator may request information for operational purposes on the maintenance of a freight wagon. The entity in charge of the maintenance of the freight wagon shall respond to such requests either directly or through other contracting parties.
Under the Regulation, the organization (entity in charge of maintenance) has to dispose of procedures to establish, identify, supply, register and keep available the right equipment which permit it to deliver maintenance services in conformity with the orders and other applicable specifications. Therefore, the safe maintenance and ergonomics has to be safely ensured, including user interfaces and information systems or diagnosis equipment.
“All such entities can provide the maintenance of freight or passenger wagons, but for extra safety, the entities which provide the maintenance of freight wagons need to be certified, it is mandatory. Moreover, by implementing a safety management system, railway transport operators will control all risks associated to their activities, including the operation of maintenance and the activity of contractors”, said Gilles Peterhans, Secretary General of the International Union of Wagon Keepers (UIP). He added that, although a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2010-2011 by the ministers of transport of the EU member states, nothing has been made so far for simplifying the transposition of Regulation 445/2011 into the national legislation. Moreover, starting with 2015, certification based on these MoUs will no longer be va-lid and the application of the provisions of Regulation 445/2011 will be mandatory.
The certification of the entity confirms the transport operator’s competence in delivering maintenance operations.
With their safety management system, railway freight transport operators or infrastructure managers have to ensure the control of all risks related to its activity, including the use of such wagons. To this end, a railway undertaking should rely on contractual arrangements involving entities in charge of maintenance for all wagons it operates. This could be a contract between the railway undertaking and the entity in charge of maintenance or a chain of contracts involving other parties, such as the keeper, the Regulation shows.
For an improved transparency, each certified entity, which provides maintenance for freight wagons, has to elaborate and update the maintenance file (which includes the actual operations) and then make sure that the maintenance file is implemented (it will include data on the management of the rolling stock fleet and data on deliveries) and also, for an improved activity management, each entity has to coordinate all these activities and to supervise its subcontractors.