EU-wide rail safety
Directive (EU) 2016/798 on railway safety
It aims to enhance railway safety across the EU by revising the role of national safety authorities (NSAs) and reallocating responsibilities between them and the European Union Agency for Railways (the Agency).
The directive is one of 3 legislative acts covering the technical aspects of the fourth railway package which aims to revitalise the rail sector and deliver a better quality of service and more choice to passengers. It works alongside Regulation (EU) 2016/796 on the European Union Agency for Railways and Directive (EU) 2016/797 on the interoperability of the EU rail system.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the directive was amended by Regulation (EU) 2020/698 and Directive (EU) 2020/700 to extend the deadline for incorporating the directive into EU countries’ national law.
The directive sets out a number of measures to develop and improve safety and to improve access to the market for rail transport services, including:
establishing the Agency as a body issuing safety certificates to railway undertakings which operate in more than one EU country;
defining the responsibilities between the different bodies involved in the EU rail system;
developing common safety targets and common safety methods with the aim of removing national rules and therefore barriers to the development of a single European railway area;
setting out the principles for issuing, renewing, amending and restricting or revoking safety certificates and authorisations;
requiring each EU country to establish a national safety authority and an investigation body for railway accidents and incidents;
defining common principles for the management and supervision of railway safety.
The directive applies to the rail system in EU countries, it does not apply to:
trams and light rail vehicles and infrastructure used exclusively by those vehicles;
networks that are not part of the EU rail system and that are intended to operate only local, urban or suburban passenger services, along with companies that operate solely on these networks.
Development and management of safety
Within their respective competences under EU law, the Agency and the EU countries are responsible for ensuring that railway safety is maintained and generally improved with a priority placed on preventing accidents.
EU countries are also responsible for ensuring that:
measures to develop and improve safety follow a system-based approach;
infrastructure managers and railway companies are responsible for the safe operation of the EU rail system and the control of any associated risks.
Common safety methods and targets
The assessment of safety levels, the achievement of safety targets and compliance with other safety requirements are established using common safety methods (CSMs). In particular, common methods for:
risk and evaluation assessment;
assessing conformity for issuing safety certificates and safety authorisations;
supervision by national safety authorities and for monitoring by railway companies, infrastructure managers and railway maintenance bodies;
assessing the achievement of safety targets at EU and national level.
Minimum safety targets to be achieved by the EU rail system as a whole are set out in common safety targets (CSTs). CSTs may take the form of risk acceptance criteria or target safety levels.
Single safety certificate
Access to the EU railway infrastructure will only be granted to companies holding a single safety certificate issued either by the Agency or by the relevant national safety authorities.
The purpose of the certificate is to provide evidence that the company concerned has established its safety management system and that it is able to operate safely in its intended area of operation.
Amendments following the COVID-19 outbreak
Directive (EU) 2016/798 was due to have taken effect from 16 June 2020. However, to provide the railway sector with greater legal certainty and flexibility to deal with the exceptional circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, amending Directive (EU) 2020/700 was adopted to extend transposition and repeal periods of Directive (EU) 2016/798 (originally set at 16 June 2020 to 31 October 2020). It also aligns the application dates for the CSMs with the revised deadlines.
Regulation (EU) 2020/698 lays down specific and temporary measures in view of the COVID‐19 outbreak concerning renewing or extending certain certificates, licences and authorisations and the postponing certain periodic checks and periodic training in certain areas of transport legislation. The regulation extends the time limits laid down in Directive (EU) 2016/798 with regard to the renewal of single safety certificates that expire between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 and the validity of safety authorisations that expire between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 by 6 months.
Amendment as regards the application of railway safety and interoperability rules within the Channel Fixed Link
Regulation (EU) 2020/1530 extends the definition of the national safety authority with regards to any body entrusted by an EU country and a non-EU country and sets out arrangements therewith.
Directive (EU) 2016/798 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on railway safety (OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, pp. 102-149)The directive has applied since 15 June 2016 and had to become law in the EU countries by 16 June 2020. This date has been further extended by amending Directive (EU) 2020/700 until 31 October 2020.
Successive amendments to Directive (EU) 2016/798 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Regulation (EU) 2020/698 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 2020 laying down specific and temporary measures in view of the COVID‐19 outbreak concerning the renewal or extension of certain certificates, licences and authorisations and the postponement of certain periodic checks and periodic training in certain areas of transport legislation (OJ L 165, 27.5.2020, pp. 10-24)
Regulation (EU) 2016/796 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Railways and repealing Regulation (EC) No 881/2004 (OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, pp. 1-43)
Directive (EU) 2016/797 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the interoperability of the rail system within the European Union (OJ L 138, 26.5.2016, pp. 44-101)