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Interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system

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This Directive aims to ease the circulation of high-speed trains through the various train networks of the European Union. Member States are asked to harmonise their high-speed rail systems in order to create an interoperable European network. The aim is to enable people and goods to move around more easily by promoting the railways as a mode of transport in Europe.

ACT

Council Directive 96/48/EC of 23 July 1996 on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system See amending act]

SUMMARY

The aim of this Directive is to achieve the interoperability of the European high-speed train network at the various stages of its design, construction, gradual placing in service and operation.

The Directive's provisions concern the parameters, constituents, interfaces and procedures which are needed and adequate in order to ensure and guarantee interoperability within the high-speed train network.

The network is defined as a system consisting of a set of infrastructures, fixed installations, logistic equipment and rolling stock.

The Directive underlines the essential requirements covering all of the conditions to be met in order to ensure the interoperability of the European high-speed train network. Member States are obliged to comply with these essential requirements to achieve the objectives of interoperability in Europe. The requirements concerning safety, reliability, human health, environmental protection, technical compatibility and operation are defined in general terms in Annex III.

The essential requirements take the form of "Technical Specifications for Interoperability" (TSIs). These specifications lay down the fundamental elements of each sub-system and identify in particular the constituents that are critical from the perspective of interoperability. Since its creation in 2004, the European Railway Agency is responsible for drawing up and revising the TSIs.

The Directive is the cornerstone of a three-tiered structure:

  • the Directive itself, containing essential requirements to be met by the system;
  • the technical specifications for interoperability (TSIs), which have to be adopted in accordance with the procedures laid down by the Directive;
  • all the other European specifications, including European standards from the European standards bodies: CEN, Cenelec and ETSI.

It is appropriate to distinguish the obligatory standards contained in the TSIs from the European specifications and other harmonised standards developed by the European standardisation organisations. The latter are not compulsory but confer a presumption of conformity with the essential requirements of the Directive.

The trans-European high-speed train network is divided into many sub-systems which are subject to special rules. The European Union implements rules concerning the management of the sub-systems by the Member States. The Directive also defines the allocation of roles and prerogatives of the Member States, the procurement bodies, manufacturers and notified bodies.

The Directive provides for specific details regarding the proper implementation of the interoperability requirements. These cover the authorisation of placing in service, the EC checking procedure and the EC declaration of conformity with the essential requirements and the TSIs, as well as the role of the notified bodies and cooperation between them.

The Advisory Committee assists the Commission on any matter arising from the implementation and application of this Directive. It is consulted on the mandates for the TSIs and the safeguard clause concerning them.

Background

This Directive was amended and supplemented in 2004 and subsequently in 2007 by Directives 2004/50/EC and 2007/132/EC, which update its content in accordance with the 2001 Directive on the interoperability of the conventional trans-European rail system. This new impetus is part of a strategy to revitalise rail transport in Europe and help combat the harmful effects caused by the excessive use of road transport.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 96/48/EC08.10.19968.4.1999OJ L 235 of 17.09.1996

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2004/50/EC30.04.200430.04.2006OJ L 164 of 30.04.2004
Directive 2007/32/EC2.6.20071.12.2007OJ L 141 of 2.6.2007

RELATED ACTS

Commission Decision 2008/217/EC of 20 December 2007 concerning a technical specification for interoperability relating to the infrastructure sub-system of the trans-European high-speed rail system [Official Journal L 77 of 19.3.2008]

Commission Decision 2008/164/EC of 21 December 2007 concerning the technical specification of interoperability relating to persons with reduced mobility in the trans-European conventional and high-speed rail system [Official Journal L 64 of 7.3.2008]

Commission Decision 2008/163/EC of 20 December 2007 concerning the technical specification of interoperability relating to safety in railway tunnels in the trans-European conventional and high-speed rail system [Official Journal L 64 of 7.3.2008]

Commission Decision 2001/260/EC of 21 March 2001 on the basic parameters of the command-control and signalling subsystem of the trans-European high-speed rail system referred to as "ERTMS characteristics" in Annex II(3) to Directive 96/48/EC [Official Journal L 93 of 03.04.2001].

Commission Recommendation of 21 March 2001 on the basic parameters of the trans-European high-speed rail system referred to in Article 5(3)(b) of Directive 96/48/EC [Official Journal L 100 of 11.04.2001].

Directive 2001/16/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2001 on the interoperability on the trans-European conventional rail system [Official Journal L 110 of 20.04.2001].

This Directive on the interoperability of the trans-European conventional rail system upholds the principle of interoperability and extends it to the whole of the European rail network. Revised in 2004 by Directive 96/48/EC, it aims to improve operational efficiency and the quality of services to customers on the European rail network. It launches a broad spectrum of policies on opening the market, improving conditions for the use of railway infrastructure, interoperability and technical harmonisation.

Last updated: 09.04.2008
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