John Roberts, who represented ADtranz and then Bombardier Transportation in the company’s membership of various European Committees for Standardisation (CEN) and European Committees for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) considers regulation in a post-EU UK…

This article is intended to initiate discussion on the subject of taking the UK rail system forward once outside the European Union the date of which, for the purpose of this discussion, is assumed to be the 31st October 2019. As such it is written in an unbiased manner to encourage an open discussion needed urgently for support the UK rail industry.

I have taken knowledge from a career background embedded in the regulatory system. This includes initially representing ADtranz and then Bombardier Transportation in the company’s membership of various European Committees for Standardisation (CEN) and European Committees for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) in writing advisory standards for Rolling Stock (RST). This work was initially carried out in association with the Association Européenne pour l’Interopérabilité Ferroviaire (AEIF) beginning some 20 years ago.

CEN/CENELEC standards are very much intended to work for the rail industry and are at the heart of the various European Directives being considered the State-of-the-Art technical requirements for all Trans-European rail projects. The authors work continued with Union des Industries Ferroviaires Européennes (UNIFE) latterly in conjunction with European Rail Agency (ERA) in terms of developing rolling stock (RST) interoperability, safety, construction and authorisation regulations.

The European Union Agency for Railways is the agency of the European Union that sets mandatory requirements for European railways and manufacturers in the form of Technical Specifications for Interoperability, which apply to the Trans-European Rail system. ERA was founded in April 2004.

Regulation and Standardisation

All new UK rail projects and significant changes to those parts of the rail system registered with the EU have to be compliant with European Directives even if those projects are not interconnected to the European Mainland rail system. The authorisation process for UK rail projects has to be overseen by ERA and signed off by a Notified Body (NoBo).

NoBos are approved by the EU and any NoBo in any country can be used to assure technical compliance of any part of the rail system in any country. Something which is still an open issue with the some major EU country players. UK industry experts have access to and make a significant contribution to the EU standards and directives formulation process as part of the UNIFE organisation, Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) International Association of Public Transport (UITP) et al.

The EU has a vision for all infrastructure within Europe that is registered with the EU to be controlled by European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) to ensure the interoperability of rail freight. In the UK that is all infrastructure managed by Rail Track.

Current compliant routes

In the UK there is one interoperable railway which, for this discussion, we will call HS1, running from St Pancras station to the curtilage of the Channel Tunnel where specific Channel Tunnel requirements have to be met. This route complies with the requirements of a number of Technical Standards for Interoperability (TSIs) as embedded into European Directives and is used by high speed trains travelling into Europe and commuter trains which are required to meet European Directives covering this route.

The construction and design of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) was subject to EU Directives. The planning and design of HS2 has currently been deemed subject to the requirements of EU Directives. Significantly in respect of the Dynamic Gauge (Gabarit) and rolling stock (RST) Technical Requirements Documents (TRD) despite not being interconnected to HS1.

Freight

Freight trains from Europe are re-routed at the Channel Tunnel freight being inwardly hauled by UK compliant locomotives.

Awarding contracts

As a member of the EU it follows that all UK rail contracts have to be tendered out to other EU countries. Not all countries within the EU adhere to this edict. Having placed a stake in the ground in relation to the UK rail system as part of the European interoperable rail network the discussion continues to outline how leaving that network would shape a UK independent network.

UK Rail Network in a post Brexit environment

On leaving the EU the UK industry will be freed from the regulatory framework of the commission and will have to make many decisions in regard to its independent approach to the UK Rail system for the future. That approach may consider the adoption of EU Directives.

Regulation and Standardisation

All new rail projects and significant changes to those parts of the rail system previously registered with the EU will not have to be compliant with European Directives unless the UK industry decides to adopt those Directives as Railway Group Standards (RGS) within a standalone UK regulatory system.

The authorisation process for UK rail projects will have to be established with a UK organisation such as ORR, supported by Railway Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) taking on the role of ERA for the UK environment.

The UK will fall outside the EU NoBo system and equivalents to the EU NoBo will have to be established. This role can be adopted by a body such as ORR authorising current UK based NoBos to assure and verify technical compliance of any part of the rail system in the UK. NoBos on the European mainland will have no authority over the independent UK network.

UK industry experts may still retain access to and make a significant contribution to the EU standards and directives formulation process if the UK Company is part of the UNIFE organisation, Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) International Association of Public Transport (UITP) et al. RSSB will need to take on a leading role in the UK regulatory system using the RGS protocol.

Adopting the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) will be a choice open to the UK industry.

Current compliant routes

HS1 will revert to the control of the UK network management. To assure the continuance of the interoperable railway from Europe into the UK the EU interoperable regulatory requirements and directives will have to be retained and maintained but only for the route running from St Pancras station to the curtilage of the Channel Tunnel where specific Channel Tunnel requirements have to be met.

The HS1 route will have to remain compliant with the requirements of a number of Technical Standards for Interoperability (TSIs) as embedded into European Directives to retain Eurostar et al services. It is used by high speed trains travelling from Europe and commuter trains. New RST on this route will no longer be required to meet European Directives if that RST does not travel onto the European rail system excluding the area governed by Channel tunnel. However, RST travelling from Europe into the UK will have also have to comply with the UK Rail Regulatory system.

The construction and design of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) was subject to EU Directives. However, there are delays to the system being placed into service where those delays have been caused by compliance to EU regulatory requirements a review of those requirements could be considered.

The planning and design of HS2 has been subject to the requirements of EU Directives. Significantly in respect of the Dynamic Gauge (Gabarit) and rolling stock (RST) Technical Requirements Documents (TRD) despite not being interconnected to HS1. The design of the system should be reviewed most importantly by adopting the smaller UK dynamic gauge. This would reduce costs as tunnel profiles can be reduced and RST TRDs can require meeting only the reduced UK Gabarit. All RST so redefined would be free to operate freely from the HS2 route onto existing rail systems. This will have a significant effect on the establishment of routes and passenger logistics where interconnected to the existing rail network.

Freight

The conditions for freight trains from Europe will remain unchanged.

Awarding contracts

All TRDs for any new UK rail based contracts can openly stipulate that the items within the TRD are manufactured with the UK or have a significant UK work content.

Importantly as the UK will need to establish an equivalent to ERA the obvious organisation to take on this role would be the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) The ORR is a non-ministerial government department responsible for the economic and safety regulation of Britain’s railways, and the economic monitoring of Highways England.

It will be necessary to reformulate a UK rail standardisation protocol. The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), established in April 2003, Will rapidly have to review the RGS system to serve as the UK rail regulation and authorisation system.

Dr John Roberts

Adjunct Professor at Kasetsart University

Chairman KURail – Kasetsart University Bangkok

UIC Education Ambassador for Thailand

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