Guidance

Railways interoperability: EU Exit regulations

An overview of the changes made to the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011 that came into force on 1 January 2021.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

Introduction

This guidance is an aid for stakeholders to explain the changes that have been made under the Railways (Interoperability) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/345) and subsequent amending legislation made before the end of the Transition Period (hereafter referred to as ‘the Exit Regulations’).

These amend the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011 (RIR 2011) (SI 2011/3066) which transposed EU Directive 2008/57/EC on the interoperability of the European rail system (‘the Interoperability Directive’).

The purpose of these amendments is to ensure that the railway interoperability regime remains operable and there is a clear and accessible technical standards framework in place from 1 January 2021. In practice, this means correcting certain aspects of the interoperability regime that would no longer function correctly as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

Stakeholders should be aware that only changes related to and consequent upon the UK’s withdrawal from the EU have been made. This is in line with the wider government position to only address deficiencies that arise because the United Kingdom (UK) is no longer a member state and not to make policy changes unrelated to this within EU exit legislation.

In total, there have been 4 sets of regulations that implement changes to the UK’s interoperability framework as a result of EU withdrawal, which are as follows:

  1. The Railways (Interoperability) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (2019/345), which corrected deficiencies that arose as a result of EU Exit and ensured that a clear and accessible domestic legal framework was established for interoperability. This included the creation of a framework for the Secretary of State (SOS) to publish National Technical Specification Notices (NTSNs) under a new Regulation 3A.

  2. The Railways (Safety, Access, Management and Interoperability) (Miscellaneous Amendments and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (2019/1310), which corrected minor drafting errors in SI 2019/345.

  3. The Railways (Interoperability) (Miscellaneous Amendments and Revocations) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (2020/318) which made further amendments to both RIR 2011 and SI 2019/345 and corrected a body of retained EU law necessary for the regulatory framework to function correctly after the Transition Period (IP) Completion Day.

  4. The Railways (Miscellaneous Amendments and Revocations and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) 2020 (2020/786), which made changes to SI 2019/345 to reflect the change across the statute book from 1 January 2021 to replace ‘exit day’ with ‘IP Completion Day’ as a result of the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The changes introduced via the Exit Regulations amend the existing regime under RIR 2011.

To accompany this guidance, a document has also been prepared to demonstrate what the amendments to the text of RIR 2011 look like since all the Exit Regulations came into force on 1 January 2021. See Railways interoperability EU Exit regulations Keeling.

Stakeholders should note that this document showing the consolidated effect of the legislative changes is intended only as a reference aid and they are advised to always refer to the Exit Regulations as the primary source for the specific changes.

This guidance is primarily aimed at those stakeholders responsible for railway projects in Great Britain (GB) concerning the introduction of new rolling stock and infrastructure, as well as stakeholders responsible for delivering major GB projects for the upgrade or renewal of existing rail subsystems.

It is also relevant to manufacturers of rail subsystems and component parts, and the conformity assessment bodies that certify their compliance with technical standards. It is intended to help these organisations prepare and adapt to the coming into force of the regulations since 1 January 2021.

This guidance contains practical information on the following arrangements for GB:

  • the applicable standards and procedures for obtaining an authorisation to place into service from the Safety Authority
  • requirements for taking UK specific rules into account
  • the appropriate procedures to obtain exemptions and dispensations from standards
  • the legal framework underpinning the work of UK conformity assessment bodies and their status
  • the UK procedures, certificates and declarations that should be used, and circumstances when the EU ones have validity
  • the procedures for placing interoperability constituents on the GB market

Although RIR 2011 is UK-wide in its application, in some cases, different rules and processes may need to be applied in Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021, due to the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

This guidance should also be read subject to any guidance on Northern Ireland (NI) qualifying goods. Stakeholders should, in the first instance, contact Graeme.Banks@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk at the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) in NI if they have a query about the interoperability regime in NI.

Stakeholders are advised to refer to the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011 as amended by the Exit Regulations as the primary source of information, as this guidance is not intended to cover every regulatory amendment in detail.

The Railways (Interoperability) (Amendment) (EU Exit) 2019 Exit Regulations

The Exit Regulations came into force on 1 January 2021. These amendments to RIR 2011 will ensure the continuation of an effective standards regime for the authorisation of railway rolling stock and infrastructure in the UK, while making adjustments to the regulatory framework that are necessary as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The intention is to provide for a clear framework to authorise new, upgraded or renewed rolling stock and infrastructure so that it can be used on the UK rail system. The framework, as amended by the Exit Regulations (see Overview of the changes to RIR 2011 and the new framework for standards), will support recognition of subsystems and components that have been previously assessed against EU standards where those UK and EU standards are fully equivalent and no additional UK specific assessments are required.

Overview of the changes to RIR 2011 and the new framework for standards

RIR 2011 contains a number of deficiencies that arise as a consequence of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and which therefore need to be corrected to ensure legal certainty in the interoperability regime from 1 January 2021.

These deficiencies include:

  • the continued application of EU technical specifications within GB without a mechanism to address specific national needs
  • arrangements regarding the recognition of EU assessments of rail products undertaken by third parties
  • continued obligations to notify National Technical Rules (NTRs) and third-party conformity assessment bodies to the European Commission to enable them to work in GB
  • the need for the Competent Authority to seek the Commission’s permission to issue a derogation against a technical specification for interoperability (TSI)
  • obligations for the Safety Authority to provide information to the European Union Agency for Railways, for example, data on vehicle types
  • the inclusion of redundant EU terminology in some cases, such as ‘EC Declaration of Conformity’ and ‘member state’

New powers have been created by the Exit Regulations to ensure that GB can amend, update and issue its own rail technical standards. These will be contained in NTSNs and NTRs.

Without these powers, GB technical standards could not be altered to respond to UK industry requirements or changes to international technical standards in a timely manner.

Amendments to EU rail technical standards (contained in TSIs) will no longer have direct effect in GB from 1 January 2021. This system will permit the UK to maintain identical standards on 1 January 2021 and will enable a sufficient level of flexibility for the UK to diverge from or keep pace with TSIs after this date subject to scrutiny of any requests for divergence and close collaboration with the rail industry in this regard.

The changes also enable the recognition of EU certificates and assessments against EU rules to avoid re-checking of vehicles, subsystems and components where the applicable UK requirements remain equivalent to the EU ones after withdrawal.

The policy objective is to avoid imposing unnecessary costs and burdens on the rail industry at the end of the transition period and will allow greater time to prepare for a transition to end the recognition of EU certificates and assessments 24 months later.

These changes will limit additional checking in the UK to those checks necessary to ensure conformity with rules that are relevant to the specific technical characteristics of the UK rail network. See Recognition of EC certificates and declarations for subsystems (Regulations 15, 16 and 17) for an explanation of the 24 months period for continued recognition.

To ensure a smooth transition for the conformity assessment bodies operating in the UK, the Exit Regulations ensure that notified bodies appointed by the SOS will automatically become approved bodies from 1 January 2021 without having to reapply, and will be able to assess against NTSNs from this date.

To ensure an appropriate check of vehicles, systems and components with EC certification, the designated bodies appointed by the SOS will continue to check conformity with the rules that are specific to the UK network.

The changes also require rail vehicles first authorised in the EU to undergo a mandatory additional authorisation process to obtain a UK authorisation. The 2008 Interoperability Directive provided that member states can choose whether this is a voluntary or mandatory procedure. Only the UK and one other member state had previously elected to make the additional authorisation process voluntary.

However, this is no longer appropriate for the UK from 1 January 2021, as UK technical standards could potentially diverge from those in the EU in the future. While no decision has yet been taken on divergence, switching to a mandatory additional authorisation requirement helps to future-proof the authorisation process and ensure that new vehicles comply with the UK’s rules.

What remains unchanged

The scope of the Interoperability regime, as amended by the Exit Regulations, remains the same.

RIR 2011 still applies to the UK rail system and the definition no longer cross-refers to the definition of rail system in the Interoperability Directive but instead adopts and adapts the definition of ‘existing rail system’ from the Directive (so it now reads ‘the structure composed of lines and fixed installations of the existing rail system in the UK plus the vehicles of all categories and origin travelling on that infrastructure’).

The parts of the rail system that were excluded under RIR 2011 continue to be excluded from 1 January 2021. The Department for Transport (DfT) will still maintain the exclusion list that applies under Regulation 3 (for example, metros, trams and touristic lines) and the other exclusions still apply. The essential requirements and the description of the subsystems of interoperability (currently contained in annexes to the Directive) have also been preserved, as outlined in New schedules added to RIR 2011.

The Safety Authorities under RIR 2011 are unchanged and continue to be the following:

  • the Office of Rail and Road (GB)
  • the Department for Infrastructure (NI)
  • the Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) (UK section of the Channel Tunnel)

The Safety Authorities will still authorise the placing into service of subsystems. It will still be necessary to obtain an assessment from a conformity assessment body and decisions can still be obtained from the Competent Authority (Department for Transport for Great Britain and Department for Infrastructure for Northern Ireland) about the disapplication of standards in much the same way as prior to 1 January 2021.

National Technical Specification Notices (Regulation 3B)

Due to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Exit Regulations create new powers for the SOS to set and publish technical standards to replace TSIs. These must be complied with for the purposes of seeking an authorisation. These standards were published as NTSNs on 1 January 2021.

When the NTSNs are first published they must identify which TSIs they replace.

Although these new standards apply from 1 January 2021, they contain the same technical requirements that applied before this date, and the same structure, but include minor amendments in consequence of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and its status as a third country.

If a TSI cross-refers to another standard, such as a European Standard (EN), then the replacement NTSN will do the same.

This framework provides an effective mechanism for the UK to update its rail technical standards as the EU updates its own via the TSI working groups of the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA).

The standards set out in the NTSNs replace the requirements contained within the TSIs and address deficiencies within them, such as references to their application within member states. NTSNs indicate if they diverge from TSIs by reference to UK-specific cases. The same specific cases included in the TSIs for the UK at the end of the transition period have been incorporated into the NTSNs.

In total, 11 NTSNs replace TSIs and these are in force as of 1 January 2021.

DfT has prepared a generic guide to explain the types of changes that have been made when preparing the NTSNs. It gives examples of the types of deficiencies identified in the TSIs and how these may have been dealt with in an NTSN.

Stakeholders should refer to the individual NTSN as the primary source for changes. The generic guide is only intended as an indicative reference tool.

Although NTSNs are the applicable standard from the coming into force of the Exit Regulations on 1 January 2021, provision is also made for the recognition of EU documentation and the work of EU conformity assessment bodies in relation to TSIs in certain circumstances (as explained in Conformity assessment bodies).

Two additional NTSNs address further technical issues that are not covered by the NTSNs replacing the TSIs.

The first of these is the NTSN concerning the further assessment of interoperability constituents (ICs), which hold an EC declaration of conformity or suitability for use. Such further assessments are required to place the interoperability constituent on the UK market and must be carried out by a UK-appointed designated body if an NTSN identifies that there is a UK-specific case that is relevant to that constituent. For example, pantographs that must meet the UK specific cases in the energy NTSN.

The second of these additional NTSNs sets out the details of the modules for the assessment process of infrastructure and rolling stock by UK assessment bodies. This is based upon the content of EU Decision 2010/713, with necessary adjustments to address the deficiencies that are within this Decision due to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Provision is made to enable NTSNs to be varied after 1 January 2021 and changes must be published.

When further TSIs come into force in the EU, and if an NTSN substantially reproduces the provisions of that TSI, the relevant NTSN must specify the title of the TSI it substantially reproduces. DfT will seek the views of industry before making decisions to align with or diverge from future TSIs.

It will be necessary to consider the costs and benefits of doing so, along with the UK’s international obligations on rail technical standards including The Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF).

Further information about how this process will operate is available. Stakeholders may also wish to refer to the impact assessment that accompanies the exit SI 2019/345 for information on divergence.

It will be possible for the SOS to publish NTSNs containing different requirements for different GB networks.

The transition from Notified National Technical Rules to National Technical Rules (Regulation 3C)

It will not be necessary to notify GB’s national technical rules to the Commission from 1 January 2021. These rules, which are mostly based on Railway Group Standards (RGS) and supplement the NTSNs, will be reclassified as National Technical Rules (NTRs).

DfT has published a list of the NTRs. Where relevant, this list specifies the Notified National Technical Rule (NNTR) that an NTR replaces. There was no intention to change the content of the rules on 1 January 2021, so it is the same list of rules that constituted the NNTRs.

New schedules added to RIR 2011

Prior to 1 January 2021, RIR 2011 cross-referred to certain annexes of the Interoperability Directive to give them effect under UK law. From this date, it is not possible to continue to make cross-references to these annexes as they contain a number of deficiencies.

Where applicable, the approach taken in the Exit Regulations, is to substantially reproduce the text of the relevant annex to the Interoperability Directive in a new schedule to RIR 2011 with amendments to correct these deficiencies.

The following table lists the new schedules that have been added to RIR 2011 to substantially reproduce the relevant content (with appropriate fixes) from the annexes in this way:

Table of new schedules added to RIR 2011

New schedule number RIR 2011 Topic Annex of Directive 2008/57
schedule 2 essential requirements annex III
schedule 3 subsystems annex II
schedule 4 UK verification assessment procedure for subsystems annex VI
schedule 5 UK declaration of verification of subsystems annex V
schedule 7 UK declaration of conformity or suitability for use of interoperability constituents annex IV
schedule 8 minimum criteria which must be taken into account by the Secretary of State when approving bodies annex VIII

In addition to the above, a new schedule 6 has been added to set out a model form for an applicant to make a declaration of conformity to an authorised type of vehicle. This is based upon the content of Commission Regulation EU 201/2011 on the model of declaration of conformity to an authorised type of railway vehicle.

Conformity assessment bodies (Regulation 30)

It is no longer appropriate for the assessment bodies appointed in the UK verifying conformity to UK technical standards to be defined as ‘notified to the Commission’. Before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, these bodies were referred to as notified bodies (responsible for the assessment of TSIs) and designated bodies (responsible for the assessment of NNTRs).

The stakeholder notice issued by the Commission in March 2020 states that at the end of the transition period, UK-notified bodies will lose their status as EU-notified bodies and will not be in a position to perform conformity assessment tasks pursuant to Union legislation.

From 1 January 2021, the UK-appointed notified bodies became approved bodies and their function is to assess against NTSNs. The conversion of status will take place automatically. The UK-appointed designated bodies retain their status and assess against the NTRs instead of the NNTRs.

Stakeholders may wish to consult the following notice issued by BEIS for further details about the administrative arrangements for UK-approved bodies, which includes those operating under the interoperability framework.

The addition of ‘UK’ verification assessment and certification processes (Regulations 16 and 17)

It is necessary within certain provisions in RIR 2011 to replace references to ‘EC’ certificates, verification procedures and declarations with references to ‘UK’ ones instead.

This is because the persons or bodies issuing certificates, carrying out verification work or making declarations in GB will be doing so in accordance with RIR 2011 as amended by the Exit Regulations and with reference to standards contained in NTSNs and NTRs rather than the Interoperability Directive and standards contained in TSIs and NNTRs.

They will be certifying (or declaring) that the requirements of the NTSNs and NTRs have been met rather than the TSIs and NNTRs, and will be required to apply the processes and procedures in the schedules listed above as opposed to those contained in the annexes to the Directive.

It is no longer appropriate to use the terminology ‘EC’ for these activities, even though they are undertaken in accordance with similar procedures.

The following ‘UK’ versions of these documents and processes have been added under RIR 2011 (see definitions in Regulation 2):

  • UK certificate of verification’ (a certificate drawn up by an approved body or designated body as part of the UK verification assessment procedure for a structural subsystem – see schedule 4 for further details)
  • UK declaration of conformity or suitability for use’ (to place interoperability constituents on the market after withdrawal – see Regulation 25 and schedule 7 for further details)
  • UK declaration of verification’ (a declaration of verification drawn up by a project entity in relation to a structural subsystem – see schedule 5 for further details)
  • UK verification assessment procedure’ (a procedure for checking that the relevant NTSNs and NTRs have been complied with – see schedule 4 for further details)

Recognition of EC certificates and declarations for subsystems (Regulations 15, 16 and 17)

Stakeholders should note that the following new definition has been added to Regulation 2 of RIR 2011:

UK specific cases’ means a special provision in relation to the technical specifications for a subsystem or an interoperability constituent to allow for its compatibility with the rail system, which is set out in an NTSN or an NTR and described in that NTSN or that NTR as a ‘UK-specific case’:

The new definition reflects that UK-specific cases will be used to signpost UK specific divergence from EU standards, whether the divergence is contained in the NTSN itself or in an NTR.

To obtain an authorisation to place into service from the Safety Authority, it will be necessary to demonstrate that the essential requirements have been met. Under Regulation 15, the essential requirements for a project subsystem are deemed to be met if the project subsystem conforms to all applicable NTSNs and NTRs.

If an NTSN specifies that it substantially reproduces the provisions of a TSI, the applicant seeking an authorisation may provide evidence that the TSI standards have been met in the form of EC declarations of verification and EC certificates of verification.

If this evidence is provided, the project subsystem is deemed to conform to the applicable NTSN – save for any UK-specific case set out in that NTSN. If a UK-specific case applies, they must provide evidence of meeting the UK-specific cases to obtain an authorisation.

Further guidance on how these requirements apply to NI qualifying goods will follow.

This means that the applicant will need to engage a designated body to carry out the verification assessment procedure set out in schedule 4 in relation to the specific case(s) and make a UK declaration of verification.

The UK’s recent technical notice to stakeholders for rail transport announced that the period of recognition of relevant documentation issued in the EU will be time-limited to 24 months from 1 January 2021 (that is, until 1 January 2023) for the purposes of placing an interoperability constituent (IC) on the market, and that further legislation will be prepared to give effect to this deadline for recognition.

The same deadline will be applied to the recognition of EC certificates of verification for subsystems, except in the case of international vehicles first authorised in the EU, where the position will be governed by our obligations under COTIF.

Regulations 16 and 17 have been amended to refer to both EC and UK verification procedures (evidence from both procedures could be used to obtain an authorisation). If there are applicable UK specific cases there will need to be evidence in the technical file that these requirements have been assessed by the designated body and the UK certificate of verification will need to confirm this.

Interoperability constituents (Part 3 of RIR 2011 and 47A)

The UK will treat interoperability constituents (ICs) placed anywhere on the EU market before 1 January 2021, as an interoperability constituent placed on the UK market under these regulations. The Exit Regulations do not require an additional process to place such ICs on the market again in the UK. This is covered in Part 3 of the regulations and the transitional arrangements in Regulation 47A.

Separate guidance will cover the position in relation to NI qualifying goods.

If a person wishes to place an IC, which holds an EC declaration of conformity or suitability for use on the GB market from 1 January 2021, where the UK and EU technical standards remain aligned (with no applicable UK-specific cases), it will be possible for a person to do so on the basis of that declaration (subject to the 1 January 2023 deadline – see Recognition of EC certificates and declarations for subsystems (Regulations 15, 16 and 17)).

The NTSNs will identify if there is a UK-specific case that is relevant to an IC. If there is an applicable UK-specific case, it will be necessary for anyone seeking to place that constituent on the GB market after 1 January 2021 (based upon an EC declaration drawn up before or after that date) to engage a UK-designated body to assess that the constituent meets the requirements of the UK-specific case and draw up a UK declaration of conformity or suitability for use.

This must be done in accordance with the procedure set out in the NTSN concerning the further assessment of ICs which hold an EC declaration of conformity or suitability for use. If no EC declaration was drawn up, then the engagement of a designated body to undertake the assessment still applies.

An IC, to which a UK specific case applies and in respect of which an EC declaration of conformity or suitability for use was drawn up before 1 January 2021, can, however, be placed on the GB market on the basis of that EC declaration (subject to the 1 January 2023 deadline – see Recognition of EC certificates and declarations for subsystems (Regulations 15, 16 and 17)), if:

  • there is no material difference between the technical specifications of the applicable UK specific case and a pre-exit specific case against which the interoperability constituent was previously assessed; and
  • there are no other applicable UK-specific cases

The regulations provide that material difference in this context does not include a TSI or NNTR requirement that was reproduced in the NTSN or NTR.

Definition of authorised representative (Regulations 2 and 3A)

The Exit Regulations add a new definition for the term authorised representative. Before 1 January 2021, these representatives could act on behalf of the project entity, that is, the contracting entity or manufacturer, as long as they were established in the EU.

From 1 January 2021, an authorised representative that was appointed before this date in a European Economic Area (EEA) member state can continue to act in this capacity in the UK. However, authorised representatives appointed from 1 January 2021 will need to be established in the UK.

Stakeholders should also note that Regulation 25 (interoperability constituents and UK declarations of conformity or suitability for use) and schedule 7, which provides details about the contents of such UK declarations, refer to the manufacturer’s representative. The manufacturer’s representative in this particular context is not required to be established in the UK.

Mandatory additional authorisation (Regulations 4 and 6)

Prior to the coming into force of the Exit Regulations, RIR 2011 enabled persons wishing to first use a vehicle authorised in another member state to seek a voluntary additional authorisation to place into service from the Safety Authority (note this provision did not apply to the Channel Tunnel).

As a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, if there is an extant authorisation granted in an EU member state, such persons must apply to the Safety Authority for an additional authorisation to place into service in order for the vehicle to be first used in the UK after 1 January 2021. This requirement does not impact upon any vehicles already in use in the UK prior to 1 January 2021.

This mandatory additional authorisation process applies in the case of vehicles with a first authorisation in a member state that is either TSI conforming or non-TSI conforming. This change in requirements is necessary to ensure that an assessment is always carried out to determine if the vehicle meets the ‘UK-specific rules’, which are defined as follows:

UK-specific rules’ means all UK-specific cases and NTRs, including any dispensation granted against NTRs under Regulation 46(1).

The assessment of the vehicle for compliance with any UK-specific rules will need to be undertaken by a designated body. The Safety Authority may specify the additional testing necessary to prove technical compatibility with the infrastructure of the networks where the vehicle is intended to be used and the UK-specific rules.

To a large extent, the type of information that was required as part of the voluntary additional authorisation process has been retained (for example, if there is a technical file from the first authorisation, this must be submitted to the Safety Authority as part of the process for seeking the mandatory additional authorisation). This will ensure that vehicles, and component parts, fully comply with the UK’s technical standards.

A new requirement has been added to ensure that an applicant seeking a mandatory additional authorisation provides sufficient documentary evidence to satisfy the Safety Authority that the first authorisation has not been revoked. Given that GB will no longer have access to EU vehicle registers from 1 January 2021, it is appropriate that the applicant provides this documentation.

It will be a matter for the Safety Authority to determine what constitutes sufficient evidence. For example, they may wish to consider if an extract from a national vehicle register in the member state where the vehicle was first authorised would meet such a requirement.

The former requirement for the Safety Authority to check compliance with certain national technical rules that are categorised and included in the reference document is not appropriate for mandatory additional authorisations in GB from 1 January 2021.

The reference document is a list that has been compiled by the ERA. Before the transition to a mandatory additional authorisation regime, those rules that were classified as equivalent to a member state’s rules (category A rules) were out of bounds in terms of the checking of rules for the voluntary additional authorisation process.

However, under the mandatory additional authorisation process, it is appropriate that the Safety Authority should have the flexibility to determine which specific national technical rules set by the SOS are relevant after withdrawal from the EU. They should no longer be constrained with regard to the list of rules within the Agency’s reference document.

DfT will produce separate guidance covering the process for mandatory additional authorisation for first use of vehicles in the Channel Tunnel.

Vehicle type authorisations determined by the Safety Authority

Prior to 1 January 2021, the Safety Authority was required under RIR 2011 to notify the ERA about any determination of type it made when authorising a vehicle. Such a notification is no longer appropriate after withdrawal from the EU.

The Exit Regulations require the Safety Authority to publish and keep up to date a list of determinations of type and, in so doing, it may have regard to the requirements set out in the Implementing Decision (2011/665/EU), which specifies how vehicle types are determined.

Upgrade and renewal projects (Regulation 13)

It will still be possible for projects to apply to the Competent Authority for decisions about the disapplication of standards for upgrade or renewal projects. The definition of upgrade or renewal remains the same from 1 January 2021. The necessary changes have been made to refer to NTSNs instead of TSIs.

For applications made under Regulation 13 before 1 January 2021, the Competent Authority will treat references to a TSI as references to the NTSN that replaces it.

Exemptions from NTSNs (Regulations 14 and 14A)

Prior to 1 January 2021, RIR 2011 enabled projects seeking an authorisation to seek a derogation from the Competent Authority when they were unable to meet a requirement set out in an applicable TSI.

The Exit Regulations retain the ability for projects to apply to the Competent Authority for the disapplication of standards if certain criteria are met. Projects wishing to disapply requirements in relation to NTSNs will be able to seek exemptions.

It is no longer appropriate for the Competent Authority to notify the Commission about exemptions issued within GB or to seek the Commission’s permission, and these provisions have been removed from RIR 2011.

The criteria for seeking TSI derogations is broadly preserved in relation to exemptions from NTSNs, except for the removal of criteria that no longer apply as a result of withdrawal from the EU (such as references to networks separated from the EU or vehicles travelling to third countries).

Stakeholders should note that the Exit Regulations provide for a definition of projects at an advanced stage, which draws upon the definition used in Article 2 of the Interoperability Directive.

Regulation 14A covers the process for seeking exemptions from the Competent Authority and the information that must be provided as part of an application. This draws upon the relevant parts of annex IX of the Interoperability Directive, which lists the contents of a TSI derogation file to be submitted to the Commission by member states.

Innovative solutions

TSIs provide for ‘innovative solutions’ as a means of disapplying a standard. Member states are required to seek the permission of the Commission to use such solutions. The facility for innovative solutions is now included as an NTSN exemption category in RIR 2011, but without reference to seeking the Commission’s permission for the proposed solution.

It is more appropriate to make provision in the Regulations rather than in each NTSN for these solutions and to include this as a criterion for an NTSN exemption.

The NTSNs, therefore, refer to Regulations 14 and 14A of RIR 2011, which address the exemptions categories and processes. If the Competent Authority determines an exemption of this type, it must publish the determination.

Persons using passenger vehicles after 1 January 2020 and compliance with accessibility standards (Regulation 45)

The Exit Regulations preserve the requirement for passenger vehicles to be constructed or modified to comply with the latest technical specifications on persons of reduced mobility (PRM) for use on or after 1 January 2020.

Regulation 45 has been amended to include references to the PRM NTSN which will replicate the requirements of the PRM TSI (Commission Regulation 1300/2014) from 1 January 2021. It has also been amended to include references to the exemption provisions in the Exit Regulations (Regulations 14 and 14A).

Dispensations from NTRs (Regulation 46)

Provision is retained for applicants to seek dispensations from national rules under Regulation 46. The dispensation provision applies to NTRs instead of NNTRs, and can apply to the accessibility standards covered in Regulation 45 (accessibility targets for passenger vehicles). Dispensations from NNTRs granted before 1 January 2021 will be treated on or after this date as dispensations from the corresponding NTR.

Transitional arrangements (Regulation 47A)

It is necessary to provide for transitional arrangements to protect projects that may have progressed to a certain stage in their application for authorisation prior to 1 January 2021 (for example, to help ensure that projects can continue to rely upon evidence they may have prepared under RIR 2011 before this date).

Stakeholders are advised to always refer directly to the transitional arrangements in the Exit Regulations for the detail of how these arrangements may apply.

Summary of the topics addressed in these arrangements

Structural subsystems already authorised to be placed in service prior to 1 January 2021 to be treated as authorised under RIR 2011 as amended by the Exit Regulations.

Applications for authorisations to place into service that were made before 1 January 2021, and the authorisation was not yet granted ahead of this date, will be treated as valid applications. The technical file will also be treated as valid and the ‘EC’ declaration will be treated as a UK declaration of verification.

An application for authorisation made by declaring conformity to type before 1 January 2021 and not yet obtained from the Safety Authority is treated as a valid application under these Regulations.

Decisions made by the Competent Authority before 1 January 2021 under Regulation 13 about the requirement for authorisation and the extent to which TSIs must apply to a project subsystem, will remain valid. The reference to a TSI will be treated as a reference to the NTSN that replaces it.

Applications to the Competent Authority made under Regulation 13 before 1 January 2021 and not yet decided, to be treated after this date as valid. (references to TSIs to be treated as a reference to the NTSNs).

TSI derogations granted by the Competent Authority before 1 January 2021 to be treated on or after this date as an exemption against the NTSN which replaces that TSI.

Provisions to recognise the work of approved and designated bodies engaged before 1 January 2021 to carry out an EC verification assessment procedure in relation to TSIs or NNTRs (treated as work under the UK verification assessment procedure in relation to NTSNs or NTRs).

NNTR dispensations granted by the Competent Authority under Regulation 46 before 1 January 2021 to be treated on or after this date as a dispensation from the NTR specified in the list as replacing it.

Registers for vehicles and infrastructure

The Railways (Interoperability) (Miscellaneous Amendments and Revocations) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (2020/318) made further amendments to both RIR 2011 and SI 2019/345 and corrected a body of retained EU law necessary for the regulatory framework to function correctly after the end of the transition period.

These amendments relate to the EU tertiary legislation relating to the specifications for vehicle and infrastructure registers. This legislation contained some minor deficiencies as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Both of the specifications will continue to apply with these corrections in GB.

Infrastructure managers should note that they will no longer be required to make their infrastructure register available on a publicly accessible website. They will need to make the information about their infrastructure available upon request by an applicant for authorisation or by an approved body within 28 days of receiving the request.

Convention concerning international carriage by rail

The UK continues to be a signatory to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) and will continue to meet our international obligations.

COTIF establishes uniform technical rules that govern international rail transport. The EU and the UK are parties to COTIF and these uniform rules. Decisions about the future development and content of NTSNs, in light of new TSIs that may be introduced into the EU after withdrawal, will also need to take into account our obligations under COTIF in relation to international traffic.

Although GB may no longer be able to populate EU registers that are relevant to the operation of interoperability, such as the European registers for vehicles, vehicle types or infrastructure (and the European Railway Agency Database of Interoperability and Safety (ERADIS) database managed by the European Union Agency for Railways), the UK will continue to explore what types of information held within the UK could be relevant to international traffic and may be shared via COTIF.

Contact

If you have any queries about this guidance, email interoperability@dft.gov.uk.

List of NSTNs

The 11 NSTNs are:

  • persons of reduced mobility
  • LOC and PAS (Passenger Vehicles and Locomotives)
  • control command and signalling
  • energy
  • infrastructure
  • safety in railway tunnels
  • noise
  • wagons
  • operations
  • telematics for passenger
  • telematics for freight
  • modules for conformity assessment
  • further assessment of ICs
Published 14 December 2020
Last updated 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance in line with Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011, and the Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems (Safety) Regulations 2006, as both amended for EU Exit.

  2. First published.