Brussels, 16 June 2011 – The European Commission has formally requested eight Member States to fully implement the railway interoperability Directive of 2008 (2008/57/EC) and its 2009 amendment. Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom have so far failed to notify the Commission of measure taken to implement both these two Directives into national law (the deadline was 19 July 2010). The Commission has requested the Member States in question to remedy the situation within two months, failing which the Commission may refer them to the EU’s Court of Justice.

The EU rules

The Directive on the interoperability of the rail system (2008/57/EC) aims to establish the conditions for achieving interoperability within the European rail transport system..It includes rules on the design, construction, placing in service, upgrading, renewal, operation and maintenance of the components of the railway system, as well as rules on the professional qualifications and health and safety conditions of the staff who contribute to its operation and maintenance. The Directive also lays down rules on technical specifications for interoperability and the procedures for adopting, reviewing and publishing them.

Directive 2009/131/EC amends Directive 2008/57/EC by providing an updated list of parameters to be checked on railway vehicles which do not conform to the technical specifications for interoperability.

The practical effect of non-implementation

Rail interoperability aims to improve the competitive position of the rail sector so that it can compete effectively with other transport modes, and in particular with road transport. The failure of these Member States to implement the Directives in question means that railway systems within the European Union are not interoperable. People and goods are therefore prevented from using railways as easily as they could if the Member States’ railway systems (e.g. coaches, trucks, locomotives) were interoperable, as required by these Directives.

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/408

Source – European Commission.

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