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19 Dec 2008



The following position paper of UITP and UNIFE addresses the differences of principle between Urban Rail systems and the Interoperable Railway systems of the European Union and makes proposals, for new systems or major upgrades of existing ones, for how the stakeholders involved can overcome existing barriers, particularly in the cross-acceptance process of railway products between Member States. Standardisation can help to overcome such hurdles, therefore both
UITP and UNIFE wish to focus on those topics and products yielding the highest return on investment.

Topics and products which are heavily influenced by operational differences, often caused by urban constraints, specifically command and control systems (e.g. signalling) are explicitly excluded from the scope of the following paper.

1. New context
The new Directive on the interoperability of the Community rail system 2008/57/EC which entered into force on 19 July 2008 provides for an optional exclusion of urban guided transport from its scope (article 1(3)).

3. Member States may exclude from the measures they adopt in implementation of
this Directive:
a) metros, trams and other light rail systems;
b) networks that are functionally separate from the rest of the railway system and
intended only for the operation of local, urban or suburban passenger services, as well as railway undertakings operating solely on these networks;
c) privately owned railway infrastructure and vehicles exclusively used on such
infrastructure that exist solely for use by the owner for its own freight operations;
d) infrastructure and vehicles reserved for a strictly local, historical or touristic use.
This article is aligned with article 2(2) of the Directive 2004/49/EC on safety on the Community’s railways, with the addition of indent (d)1.
The automatic inclusion of the categories of railways in the article 1(3) provisions is extremely controversial as it is the first time that urban rail could be subject to interoperability requirements.

Indeed, for several reasons, such as: the independence of urban rail networks from mainline networks, the existence of a large variety of local operational standards, technical specifications, operational and infrastructure characteristics etc., it would be totally inappropriate to apply the present interoperability specifications or to write specific interoperability requirements.

1 Note: the available versions (May 2008) of the different railway legislations present some inconsistencies in some languages, notably French, German and Spanish, which require further clarification.
As a consequence, all Member States are expected to opt for exclusion when adapting their national law as they already did (except partially for Portugal) for the Safety Directive
2. The benefits of a transparent market
Nevertheless, UITP and UNIFE consider that some action in the field of operational and technical standards for guided urban transport would help in order to reduce the number of individual solutions, offer a larger market base to its products and reduce some of the remaining barriers to trade.
• The variety of national or local standards, technical approvals or technical specifications relating to the design, calculation and execution of the works and use of the products can constitute technical barriers to trade. Although such requirements may be justified on the basis that they satisfy mandatory requirements such as safety, in practice they are not always proportionate with the aims. Urban rail systems are often innovative, sometimes forced by the variety of local conditions calling for new and creative solutions. Necessarily such innovations or local conditions have to be verified and validated against safety related requirements.

However, if such a procedure has to be reapplied each time, the resulting costs can be very significant. The lack of cross acceptance and sometimes non-transparent rules add additional burdens to both operators and suppliers. For example fire protection, structural strength and crashworthiness etc., could potentially be the subject of technical standardisation, provided no site specific restrictions or operational characteristics require a customised solution.

• Urban, suburban and regional rail are growing together. However, suburban and regional rail transport has a legal requirement to comply with the Interoperability Directive in the future2. In the case where an urban rail network interfaces directly with a suburban or regional rail network (e.g. tram-train) additional measures (e.g. operational procedures, technical requirements or safety approvals) may need to be applied. Light Rail and metros increasingly go outside the city centres and regional trains come into cities, as is the case for instance in London and Paris. Therefore it is vital that the Interoperability Directive status of the railway infrastructure (interoperable or not) is clearly understood and that in the case of inter-running
rail traffic, local operators and transport authorities have the freedom to decide about any necessary local arrangements (e.g. dual voltage, dual safety certification).
• Public Transport operators are conscious of the need for Standards and some of them are actively participating in the elaboration of such Standards. In Germany for example VDV, the Association of German Transport Undertakings has developed ‘Recommendations’ covering both operational and technical requirements. These ‘Recommendations' take into account European Standards as far as they are applicable to urban public transport systems, but leave urban rail operators and technical/safety supervisory authorities the freedom to take decisions at their own risk and responsibility.

3. The way forward
UNIFE and UITP recommend the following approach :
1) First step: Identification of categories of infrastructure
As already mentioned, the provisions of the Interoperability Directive are not
appropriate to urban rail. Therefore, Member States should exclude urban rail from
the scope of their national implementation law of the Interoperability Directive.

To this effect, Member states should also declare to which category of infrastructure
a given line belongs on a section per section basis, since it is the only way to clearly
define the borderline for the application of the Interoperability Directive: It would
2 Provided that the provisions for exclusion do not apply (see German version of the directives).
mean in particular each Member State to identify explicitly the extent of the
interoperable railway infrastructure, in addition to the present declared TEN lines,
down to the limits of each non interoperable local network (urban and others) as
listed in the Article 1(3) of the Interoperability Directive.

It is suggested that the Commission might issue a recommendation for this purpose,
also highlighting the necessity of flexibility when mixed operations (interoperable and
urban/non-interoperable) have to be authorised on a given infrastructure.
2) Second step: Development of common recommendations on operational
requirements and product acceptance

Since many technical solutions are dependent on operational conditions and
regulations for product acceptance, it would be helpful to develop common
recommendations on those topics. UNIFE and UITP therefore call for the
development of common recommendations regarding operational rules and product
acceptance procedures. The existing approaches described by national instruments,
for instance in Germany the BOStrab (governing regulations based on the German
Passenger Transport Act) and the VDV recommendations, or in the UK, the ROGS
regulations, should be considered as a starting point. Lessons learnt from previous
important projects that have been done jointly under the European Research and
Development Programmes should also be taken into account.

Members States should refrain from developing national legislation on urban rail
restricting the use of European Norms (EN) or preventing the acceptance of
equipment already approved in other EU Member States other than when local
circumstances specifically demand it.

3) Third step: Joint development of a European system of cross-acceptance of
urban rail products (and primarily Rolling Stock) based on common essential
requirements by following the principles that are described in the scope of this

Although most suppliers develop platform-based solutions (in particular Rolling
Stock), no common framework for acceptance exists in Europe. Similarly to the
agreements under development regarding mainline rolling stock, initiating such a
process in the field of urban transport would represent a big step forward.

The placement of products on the market would be greatly simplified through a
reduction in the number of safety acceptance procedures required to fewer, more
standardised processes and operational environments with the demonstration of
compatibility with local specific circumstances. UNIFE and UITP believe that this
would result in an increased number of products available and a shorter time to
market, and help the development of a leasing market, making the most
environmentally-friendly mode of transport more affordable.

At EU and EFTA-level the objective should be to ensure that products certified in one
urban area within the single market, shall also be considered compliant with the
same commonly defined essential requirements everywhere else within the
European area, under equivalent operating conditions. Therefore, UNIFE and UITP
call for the joint development of a European system of cross-acceptance of
urban rail-bound products (and primarily Rolling Stock) based on common
essential requirements.

4) Fourth step: In order to practically help mutual recognition/cross acceptance
on the basis of common essential requirements, a minimum European
voluntary standardisation framework should be jointly developed.

Important interfaces to be considered will include amongst others track layout, power
supply, civil works and interfaces to the passengers (via doors and interior design
principles that may be influenced by requisites of PRM - Persons with Reduced
Mobility- , safety and security), and any relevant standards will be identified or

Furthermore we call for standards describing a transparent acceptance process,
containing well defined minimum acceptance criteria and procedures for resolving
differences with existing acceptance processes currently in use.
Essential requirements specific for urban rail, taking into account the existing
European legislation should be proposed as soon as possible by the Urban Rail
Platform (joint UITP/UNIFE working group) of the rail sector organisations.

1. So as to satisfy these specific essential requirements, the European
Commission should issue a mandate to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI with
appropriate funding to draft European Norms (EN) for use in the field of
urban rail.

2. CEN, CENELEC and ETSI would as a first step, and with the support of
qualified urban rail experts and under the management of their Joint
Programming Committee Rail (JPCR), assess the present situation with
existing standards already harmonised under the Interoperability Directive
and plan the work for adaptation, modification and completion.

Products manufactured in compliance with these voluntary standards would benefit
from a presumption of conformity with the essential requirements, following the
framework of the New Approach.

UITP is the International Association of Public
Transport, based in Brussels. It represents over
3,100 urban, local, regional and national mobility
actors from more than 90 countries on all continents.
UITP brings together operating companies, local,
regional and national authorities, the service and
supply industry; and research institutes, academics
and consultants. UITP covers all modes of public
transport - metro, bus, light rail, regional and
suburban railways, and waterborne transport. It also
represents collective transport in a broader sense.
UITP European Union Committee (gathering
European public transport operators) is a
representative Association at European Union

UITP- Connecting the world of public transport
6, rue Sainte Marie
B-1080 Brussels

UNIFE is the association of the European Rail
Supply Industries, based in Brussels. Its members
cover a wide range of companies including system
integrators, infrastructure, subsystems and
component suppliers.
The European Rail Supply Industry generates
around €60 billion in revenue per year and directly
employs 130 000 people. UNIFE members
manufacture 70% of the world-wide production of rail
UNIFE has 19 National Organisations as associated
members representing another 900 rail supply
UNIFE - The European Railway Industries
221, Avenue Louise
B-1050 Brussels


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