"The overall authorisation process for vehicles in Europe can last longer than two years, immobilising assets worth €1.2bn that are waiting for authorisation and cannot be put in service," say the UITP, the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the Association of the European Rail Industry (Unife), the International Union of Wagon Keepers (UIP), and the European Passenger Train and Traction Operating Lessors Association (Epitola) in a joint statement. "The authorisation and certification processes must be simplified as quickly as possible and the European Railway Agency (ERA) must become progressively a one-stop-shop for authorisation and certification."

The associations are calling for a plan to expand the competencies of ERA so that it can be given clear responsibility to issue a single safety certificate and vehicle authorisation, rather than having to obtain authorisation in each country the rail vehicle will operate in.

The associations have given their strong support for the so-called Technical Pillar of the Fourth Railway Package which will establish consistent approvals procedures for railway interoperability and safety. They "stress the importance and urgency for reaching an agreement between the European Council and the European Parliament on this part of the proposal" as laid out by the Irish Presidency in April.

Germany's Federal Railway Agency (EBA) has been causing the greatest concern among equipment suppliers and German Rail (DB) for the excessively long time it takes to approve rail vehicles of all types, including track maintenance machines, while the Federal Transport Ministry seems powerless to do anything to solve the problem.