Transitional measures to accelerate train certification were introduced in Germany in June 2013 following an agreement between the VDB, the Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVI), German Rail (DB), the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), and the Federal Railway Authority (EBA) which is responsible for certifying new and modernised rail vehicles.

"The first experience of the new process by the VDB, and in particular the train suppliers, is promising on the whole," says VDB president Mr Martin Lange. "A new locomotive that has been assessed during the final part of the certification process under the new rules can receive approval just 11 weeks after the submission of all documents." The VDB says prior to the introduction of the transitional measures a year ago, it had repeatedly criticised the certification process as "extremely time consuming, costly and unpredictable."

"But we also want to make it clear that the reform of the approval process in Germany must be pushed forward on a legal basis as fast as possible," Lange says. While the initial formulation of a bill is already being discussed by a round table organised by the BMVI, the VDB says it wants the BMVI to initiate the legislative process as soon as possible.

"It is not about how the approval processes should be regulated in the future," Lange says. "This debate will be conducted in Brussels as part of the Fourth Railway Package, which has not yet been adopted by the European Parliament and the effect of which will not be felt by member states for at least five years. It is our sole intention to have a pragmatic and predictable approval process for rail technology in Germany as soon as possible in line with [European Union] Directives that have long been in force. In this way, as a leading railway engineering country, we will be well prepared for what to expect from the Fourth Railway Package."