European Commission publishes new standards to improve cross border rail

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The European Commission has published a package of revised technical standards, which aim to improve rail interoperability across borders by reducing complexity and lowering the cost of cross border rail operations.

The 2023 Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) package is a key milestone along the path to making smooth cross-border train trips across the EU a reality, but also clears the way for new innovative technologies, the EU noted.

TSIs applied across the EU make the continent’s rail sector more efficient because they eliminate 25 different sets of national rules. Reducing complexity and parallel rules helps to improve affordability and lower the basic cost of rail operations.

Too often, national rules still force trains to stop at borders, when driving from one EU country to another. The cost of stopping trains at internal EU borders and having to change crews and locomotives that are not certified for the next network’s national requirements, has slowed down the development of truly European services.

The revised TSIs modernize and harmonize current technical standards for rail, eliminating the need for national rules that complicate cross-border rail operations.

The revised standards also align with TEN-T requirements and introduce a common framework for technical and operating conditions for ERTMS, the European Rail Traffic Management System, and combined transport, granting more flexibility for operators in intermodal transport, for example.

Furthermore, the revised requirements also reflect recent technological developments, introducing rail innovation in a consistent manner. They pave the way for automatic train operations over ERTMS and digitalize technical and operating information for train drivers and rail staff, such as common infrastructure route and rule books for example, ensuring access to rail network knowledge.

The revised TSIs will enter effect on September 28, 2023.