Three cooperation agreements were signed on June 11 between the European Railway Agency – ERA, on the one hand, and the rail authorities in France, Greece and Romania, on the other hand.
The signing ceremony was held during the International Railway Conference held on June 11-12 in Bucharest and Sinaia, as part of Romania’s Presidency of the European Council. The ratification of these documents takes place only days before the one stop shop becomes effective, on June 16.
ERA’s Executive Director Josef Doppelbauer recalled a similar event from 2015 when the Presidency of the European Council was held by Luxembourg, which was, actually, the starting point for the Fourth Railway Package. “I’m glad that Romania is one of the eight member states taking this step to join the one stop shop. Trains are the only mode of transport that does not have worldwide regulations. If you travel by train from Bucharest to Brussels, you experience different technical and operational regulations at every border. By truck, one can travel directly from Bucharest to Brussels without any changes in terms of regulations”, said Doppelbauer.
He explained that the steps now taken in the rail sector have been taken before by road transport. For example, in 2014, there were around 14,000 regulations regarding the authorisation of road vehicles in the European Union member states. Meanwhile, their number dropped to 1,000.
Just one application as of June 16
“I am convinced that, with ERA’s new competences, we will give a new boost to standardisation, automation and, in the end, cost reduction. Starting with June 16, there will be only one application submitted to ERA for the authorisation of a rail vehicle, in only one language. The application can be submitted in any of the 24 official languages on the European Union, Romanian included”, added ERA’s Executive Director. Pointing out that it was a major step forward, Dopplebauer admitted being a little nervous. “There will definitely be problems. Never before have we had a one stop shop. We are looking forward to this major transition”.
Marian Mihail Călin, General Manager of the Romanian Railway Authority (AFER), declared that signing this cooperation agreement with ERA is an important moment because the new legal framework completes the strategy of the European rail sector. He said that authorisation and certification procedures will thus be simplified. “The document is a method of encouraging dialogue. The cooperation agreement with ERA has been a success”, said Călin.
Moreover, the representatives of the railway authorities in France and Greece emphasised that the signing of these cooperation agreements was the beginning of a new era for the European rail sector.