The Transport Council of the European Commission has adopted a general approach to rail interoperability throughout the European Union, removing administrative and technical barriers to the “Fourth Railway Package.”
The European Parliament will vote on the proposal in November.
The entire railway package, adopted Jan. 30, calls for measures to open up the constricted railroad market, promote better quality and efficiency among operators, and link the continent together through rail. Many of the proposed rule changes, such as opening up the market to new players, are to be rolled out by 2019.
The new interoperability agreement introduces a single authority for introducing new railway vehicles to the market and gives more power to the European Railway Agency. Additional benefits include reduced administrative expenses, a more streamlined approach to regulations and establishing a common approach to safety.
"I am pleased to see member states supporting this essential technical part of the ‘Fourth Railway Package,’” the commission’s Siim Kallas said in a statement. “This creates momentum for the completion of the Single European Rail Area and will contribute to the growth and competitiveness of the European railway market.” - Jon Ross