With the European Commission's 2011 Transport White Paper calling for rail and inland waterways to transport 30% of all freight by 2030, and 50% by 2050, and for rail to account for the majority of medium-distance passenger journeys by 2050, ERA should evolve towards having a central directorate supported by national or multinational offices. CER and Unife argue that this structure will allow ERA to benefit from local competences and knowledge, and improve its influence in the regions when approving vehicles that will operate across borders.
"Heading for a single railway authority in Europe, in the framework of the fourth railway package, will require technical harmonisation, streamlining of administrative procedures as well as removal of superfluous national regulations," says Mr Libor Lochman, CER executive director. "It will finally lead to a competitive and transparent European railway market supported and supervised by a lean, competent and effective European administration."
In addition to being the one-stop shop for safety certification and authorisation, ERA will have decision making power in the event of disputes during these processes, which will effectively establish ERA as Europe's sole railway authority.
"We hope that the strengthening of the role of ERA will be a priority for the Commission and the EU Member States in the fourth railway package, also with the view of endowing the agency with the necessary budgetary scope to develop its activities," says Mr Philippe Citroën, Unife director general.