ERFA / Strategy / Joint sector issues

Joint sector issues

A contribution to the development of railways

ERFA enjoys a close working relationship with the European Railway Agency (ERA), whose main tasks are to enhance interoperability and establish a common approach to safety for the whole of Europe’s railway network. ERA regularly consults with representatives of the rail sector organisations, who provide technical expertise on regulatory changes and recommendations.

ERFA actively participates in a range of formal platforms, which bring together actors from across the rail sector, to coordinate the sector’s input and support the regulatory process.

ERFA is a member of the following joint sector platforms:

GRB - Group of Representative Bodies The Group of Representative Bodies (GRB) is a grouping of railway associations in Europe with the role of supporting, in a transverse way, the rail sector’s input to the European Railway Agency (ERA) work programme and its effect on safety and interoperability.

The focus of the GRB work is on:
  • Cross sector coordination
  • ERA
  • Standardisation
  • Research
  • ERTMS.
JSG – Joint Sector Group The JSG (Joint Sector Group) is a working body installed after the Viareggio accident in September 2009 by the associations CER, ERFA and UIP. It provides common solutions for the rail freight sector business, i.e. expertise on freight wagon safety, maintenance and procedural issues, and strives for agreements of the results with the European Commission, the ERA and the NSA (National Safety Authorities). The JSG approach only treats issues that should be most favourably solved in a joint sector-wide way and that are treated at no other place in the existing framework.
JNS – Joint Network Secreatriat The JNS (Joint Network Secretariat) was established in 2012 for the NSA and NRB Network (Network of Representative Bodies) supporting the European Railway Agency to identify issues and organise the exchange of opinions and solutions within and between the networks.

The main objectives are:
  • to identify, progress and solve issues related to the safety regulatory framework
  • to improve communication within and between the NSA and NRB Networks, so that dialogue is more mature, relevant issues are shared and analysed collaboratively, and an alignment of stakeholder goals is achieved.
ECM – Entity in Charge of Maintenance The Railway Safety Directive 2004/49/EC (amended by Directive 2008/110/EC) requires that each vehicle shall have an Entity in Charge of Maintenance (ECM) assigned to it. In addition, this ECM shall be registered in a National Vehicle Register (NVR) according to Decision 2007/756/EC of 9th November 2007 (Directive 2001/16/EC amended by Directive 2004/50/EC, now art. 33 of Directive 2008/57/EC). As far as ECMs for freight wagons are concerned they must be certified according EU/445/2011 (“ECM-Regulation”).

The NVRs are not working in an equally operationally useable / accessible way throughout Europe and thus are not able today at a European, cross border level, to support the RUs in order to meet their obligations under the Safety Directive efficiently. The Joint Sector Group together with the European Railway Agency developed a solution to cover the information gap between RUs and ECMs: “Guidelines for the Keeper’s ECM Declaration”. ERFA strongly recommends to ALL its members concerned to issue their Keeper’s ECM Declaration.

Keepers ECM Declaration Implementation Guide
GCU - General Contract of Use The GCU entered into force on 1st July 2006. It provides contractual provisions between RUs and Keepers which apply between the more than 600 signatories if no bilateral contracts exist and freight wagons are transferred by Keepers to RUs and transferred or received between RUs in a transport chain. The GCU contract, its amendments, the list of signatories as well as the membership situation can be consulted on the website of the GCU Bureau. Since October 2010, the GCU website also hosts an operational and publicly accessible wagon database, in which more than 600.000 wagons allocated to the contractual parties of the GCU are registered.

ERFA is one of the three founding members of the GCU and is represented with two experts and a rapporteur in the GCU Joint Committee. Further information:

ERFA GCU Presentation

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ERFA Strategy Day 2017

On the occasion of the ERFA Strategy Day Workshop, an internal meeting of private rail freight companies in Europe, the unfriendly business environment for rail freight and the weak state of the industry were heavily discussed.

The presentation of Joakim Landholm, CEO of Hector Rail, highlighted concerns related to the dominance of incumbents, in terms of distorting prices and limiting the customer-orientation as well as the lack of crucial and complete data in the sector. Geert Pauwels, CEO of Lineas stressed the failure of rail to make any significant gains from modal shift until now and the importance of a shift towards rail freight as crucial and urgent for sustainable logistics in Europe.

During the day the key role of national governments and infrastructure managers in supporting rail’s competitiveness  was underlined. The German Master Plan should be developed as best practice in other European countries with a focus on international services.

The European Commission was also present at the meeting to outline on how they could support the reduction of the access charges in the rail sector and to present the Eurovignette directive as an instrument to level the playing field between rail and road. 



Adoption of the new European Union rule to improve rail infrastructure works

The European Rail Freight Association strongly welcomes the adoption of new EU rules to improve the coordination of infrastructure works.

It is a positive step forward for rail’s competitiveness.

Improved rail performance is essential to make rail more customer-friendly and to encourage a shift of goods from road to rail.

ERFA urges infrastructure managers to ensure the success of the new framework for organising infrastructure works!



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