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European railway agency

This summary has been archived and will not be updated. See 'Železničná agentúra Európskej únie – zaistenie bezpečného a interoperabilného železničného priestoru' for an updated information about the subject.

European railway agency

The European Railway Agency is a driving force in the policy for modernising the European railway sector. Mutually incompatible technical and security regulations in the twenty-eight Member States are a major handicap to the development of the railway sector. The Agency’s task is to gradually align technical regulations and to establish methods and common safety objectives for the whole of Europe’s railway network.


Regulation (EC) No 881/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 establishing a European Railway Agency [see amending act(s)].


The progressive establishment of a European railway area without frontiers requires Community action in the field of the technical regulations applicable to railways with regard to both the technical aspects and the safety aspects. Simultaneous pursuit of the goals of safety and interoperability requires substantial technical work which must be led by a specialised body: the European Railway Agency (ERA), hereinafter referred to as the Agency.

The main objectives of the European Railway Agency are to:

  • increase the safety of the European railway system;
  • improve its level of interoperability;
  • contribute towards establishing a European certification system for vehicle maintenance;
  • contribute towards setting up a uniform training and recognition system for train drivers.

Safety of the railway system

The Agency must provide the necessary technical assistance to implement Directive 2004/49/EC on safety on Europe’s railways. The main tasks assigned to it are:

  • prepare and propose common safety methods and indicators and annually verify that the security objectives are being met by Member States;
  • draw on the support of groups of experts in the sector placed under its responsibility;
  • consult social partners and organisations representing rail freight customers and passengers at European level;
  • ensure safety performance is continuously monitored;
  • produce a public report every two years;
  • keep a database on railway safety;
  • ensure the networking of and cooperation between national rail safety and investigation authorities, with the aim of encouraging the exchange of experience and developing a common rail safety culture.

Interoperability of the railway system

The interoperability of the European railway system aims at rendering the various national rail systems of the Member States compatible by removing or reducing the technical barriers.

In order to improve its level of interoperability, the Agency organises and manages work aimed at creating and updating the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs). The TSIs aim at ensuring that the essential requirements of Directive 2008/57/EC on the interoperability of the European railway system are met. Furthermore, the Agency publishes a report every two years on the progress made regarding interoperability.

Vehicle maintenance

Vehicle maintenance is an important part of rail safety. For this reason, the Agency is responsible for formulating recommendations to regarding in particular the certification system of entities responsible for maintaining carriages and other rail vehicles.

The Agency is also responsible for producing a report on the implementation of this certification system.

Railway personnel

The training and skills of train drivers are important elements both for rail safety and for the interoperability of the European railway system. The Agency has the mission of contributing towards harmonising the vocational skills of train drivers, under the framework of Directive 2007/59/CE relating to the certification of train drivers in the EU.

The Agency must cooperate with the competent authorities in particular, in order to ensure the interoperability of the licence registers and the certificates given to drivers, to assess the development of their certification and to produce a report on the improvements which could be made.


The Agency comprises an Administrative Board which meets at least twice a year. Its main duties are to adopt the annual work programme and the Agency’s general report. The Administrative Board comprises representatives from each Member State, the Commission and six categories of professionals from the sector: railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, railway industry, worker unions, passengers and freight customers.

Furthermore, the Agency is led by a Chairperson appointed by the Administrative Board. The principal mission of the Chairperson is to prepare and implement the work programme. The Chairperson is also responsible for managing the budget of the Agency.

The Agency does not have decision-making powers as such, but it can present opinions, recommendations and proposals to the Commission. It is independent, but works in close cooperation with experts in the field.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 881/2004



OJ L 164, 30.4.2004

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1335/2008



OJ L 354, 31.12.2008


2014/89/EU : Commission Implementing Decision of 14 February 2014 on a pilot project to implement the administrative cooperation obligations set out in Directive 2007/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council by means of the Internal Market Information System [Official Journal L 4 of 15.02.2014].

The Agency is responsible for monitoring a pilot project on the use of the Internal Market Information System (IMI), to facilitate with the exchange of information between the national registries of train drivers’ licences and certificates. It also prepares reports on the functioning of the project, in order to enable the Commission to evaluate the outcome of the pilot.

Last updated: 06.06.2014