Technical Pillar of the Fourth Railway Package, essential for the competitiveness of the European railway market

Railway signals and tracksThe three basic pillars of the Fourth Railway Package clearly shape the establishment of consistent approval procedures for railway interoperability and safety (which actually form the Technical Pillar), the liberalisation of the domestic market of passenger transport and the establishment of better structures and authorities for infrastructure managers. The main objective of the Fourth Railway Package is to improve the quality and efficiency of railway transport services by removing the remaining obstacles, thus encouraging the performance of the railway sector and, therefore, competitiveness and economic growth. These obstacles can be grouped into four categories: technical, administrative, institutional and legislative barriers.

The relatively poor performance of railway transport in the last decade reflects a low level of efficiency and quality of railway services compared with other modes of transport. According to the latest studies available, this situation can be attributed to the presence of several obstacles preventing the access on the market for the new operators and the extension of service providers, thus blocking the domestic railway services.
The lack of standardization, the existence of a highly specialised rolling stock, the investment costs resulted, as well as the input and output costs on the railway transport market, are significant problems for the single transport market. The authorization procedures are long and troublesome and the fees for safety certificates are high.
Last year in December, important “voi-ces” of the European railway sector including the European Rail Industry Association (UNIFE), the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA), International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport (UIRR), the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the International Union of Private Wagon Owners (UIP), the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and the International Union of Railways (UIC) have confirmed their support for the Technical Pillar of the Fourth Railway Package.
Thus, the vote of transport ministers within the Council for Transport and Energy gathered in mid-March 2014 on the third and last part of the Pillar Technical – consolidation of the role of ERA – confirms the support for the European railway industry and market.
The European organizations mentioned above, along with a number of other national associations in the rail industry underline that the Technical Pillar represents one of the priorities of the European railway sector. The Technical Pillar contributes to increasing the competitiveness of railway transport as a sustainable mode of transport but also to the completion of its role as the main industry in and for Europe. The Technical Pillar of the Fourth Railway Package is a fundamental landmark in the way of establishing a Single European Railway Area and should be implemented unanimously by all the interested parties. The quick implementation of the Technical Pillar means a “green light” for the European railway sector and for the creation of the Single European Railway Area.
The Technical Pillar is of great importance for the entire railway sector because it will reform the way in which the authorisation procedures of railway vehicles are performed in Europe. It will lead to faster, more efficient and less costly authorisation procedures, offering to European railway operators and citizens new rolling stock in a faster and more predictable manner.
In the idea of creating an internal market for railway equipments, the Technical Pillar represents a headstone of the Single European Railway Area. It will help create a strong basic market that the European railway industry needs to maintain its global leader position.

[ by Elena Ilie ]
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