Rail Transport (UK from 1st January 2021)

Rules change from 1st January 2021 (as a result of Brexit).

The UK Department for Transport issued on 1st July, text applicable to Rail Transport from 1st January 2021. This text is here.

The UK text also refers the reader to the already existing European Commission Notice, updated 28 April, here.

Note the following (this is not an exhaustive list, please read the text behind the links).

Note the deadlines – 1st January 2021 and 1st January 2022. Note the different rules in Northern Ireland.

(1) EU-based operators must apply to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for documentation to run services in Britain – the necessary documentation is required by 31 January 2022.

For Northern Ireland, the UK text says “non-UK operators are currently not subject to a time-limited period”. This flows from the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

(2) The UK text says “It is likely that certificates and licences issued in the UK will not be valid in the EU from 1 January 2021”.

If this is the case, operators of cross-border services will be subject to the recognition implications set out in both UK and EU rules.

(3) The UK will continue to recognise certain EU-issued documents until 31 January 2022 for services in Britain. These are operator licences, safety certificates, and train driving licences.

For Northern Ireland, the UK text says “The 2-year time limit from 31 January 2020 on recognition of these categories of EU-issued documents does not currently apply to Northern Ireland.” Again, this flows from the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

Any future arrangements with France are expected to deal with the Channel Tunnel itself but not with the routes into continental Europe (beyond Calais-Fréthun). UK operators and train drivers will need to obtain additional licences and safety certificates to operate or work in the EU.

(4) The UK’s formal participation in the EU Agency for Railways (ERA) ended on 31 January 2020 and the UK is not seeking membership of ERA. The UK text says “The UK intends to put in place appropriate arrangements for regulatory co-operation with ERA where this is necessary to secure the safety of international rail services.”

(5) After 31 January 2022, operators with an EU operating licence will need to hold an ORR-issued licence to operate in Britain. Establishment in the UK is not necessary, but the UK ORR licence will need to have been applied for and obtained by 31 January 2022 to continue operating after that date.

Operators holding an ORR-issued licence that run domestic services in the EU will need to re-apply for an operator licence in an EU member state, consulting the relevant guidance and following the requirements from the EU or the relevant member state. The licence must be in place by 1 January 2021.

This is also the case for UK-based operators seeking to run new domestic services in an EU member state.

Operators of cross-border services between the UK and the EU holding an ORR-issued licence will need to re-apply for an operator licence in an EU member state. The licence must be in place by 1 January 2021.

(6) ORR-issued Part A and Part B safety certificates will be valid for UK-based domestic operators operating in Britain until their normal expiry.

EU established operators running a domestic-only service in Britain, with a Part A safety certificate issued in the EU before 31 January 2020, will be able to use these certificates until 31 January 2022 or until they expire – whichever is earlier.

Proposed changes to UK regulations will allow EU established operators running a domestic-only service in Britain with a Part A safety certificate issued in the EU before 31 January 2022 to run services in Britain until 31 January 2022. These changes are to be made in the Railways (Miscellaneous Amendments, Revocations and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. Subject to Parliamentary process, it is expected they will come into force on 31 December 2020.

This will also apply to operators running services with a single safety certificate issued under Directive (EU) 2016/798, which will be deemed equivalent to a UK Part A safety certificate during the period between 31 December 2020 (subject to the changes to regulations coming into force) and 31 January 2022.

If trains are operated in Britain on the basis of an EU-issued safety certificate, the relevant safety certification issued by the ORR is required by 31 January 2022 at the latest. An ORR-issued Part B certificate associated with an EU-issued Part A safety certificate or a Single Safety Certificate will expire alongside the parent certificate. An operator obtaining new safety certification will also be required to apply for and obtain a new Part B safety certificate.

Establishment in the UK is not required to obtain relevant safety certification issued by the ORR, but a UK address must be supplied in the application.

For Northern Ireland – the UK text says – “non-UK based operators running a domestic-only service with a Part A safety certificate issued in the EU are not currently subject to a time-limited recognition period.” Again, this flows from the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

Any EU operator seeking to run domestic services in Britain based on an EU-issued Single Safety Certificate, issued under Directive (EU) 2016/798 until 31 January 2022, will also have to obtain a Part B safety certificate from the ORR before it can do so.

UK-based operators running domestic services in the EU who hold an ORR-issued, or Northern Ireland-issued, Part A safety certificate need to obtain an EU safety certificate by 1 January 2021. This also applies to UK-based operators seeking to run new domestic services in an EU country.

Operators established in the UK who operate cross-border services and hold an ORR-issued Part A safety certificate will need to obtain EU safety certification by 1 January 2021.

(7) Entities in charge of maintenance (ECM) that maintain vehicles in the EU on the basis of an ECM certificate issued in the UK by the ORR or an accredited certification body need to apply for and obtain a new ECM certificate from a certification body in an EU country.

Vehicles used in international traffic between the UK and the EU also have the option of obtaining a certificate according to the legal framework of the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF). The validity of ECM certificates issued in the UK by the ORR or an accredited certification body will be unchanged for freight wagons running purely on the UK mainline railway. ECMs that hold a certificate issued in accordance with COTIF can continue using these certificates in the UK for operations involved in international traffic. ECMs may also rely on certificates issued in the EU in accordance with Commission Regulation 445/2011 to maintain freight wagons for use in domestic operations.

Proposed changes to regulations will allow ECMs to rely on certificates issued in the EU in accordance with the new Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/779 to maintain freight wagons for use in domestic operations. These changes are included in the Railways (Miscellaneous Amendments, Revocations and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. Subject to Parliamentary process, it is expected they will come into force on 31 December 2020.

(8) Drivers working on services in Britain, including cross-border services, and using licences and certificates issued in the EU up to the 31 January 2020, are able to drive trains on the basis of those licences until 31 January 2022 or until they expire – whichever is earlier.

Proposed changes to regulations will allow train drivers working on services in Britain, including cross-border services, and using licences and certificates issued in the EU up to the 31 January 2022, to use this documentation until the 31 January 2022. These changes are included in the Railways (Miscellaneous Amendments, Revocations and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. Subject to Parliamentary process, it is expected they will come into force on 31 December 2020.

From 31 January 2022, train drivers working in Britain will need to have obtained a UK train driving licence from the ORR to continue operating. The validity of train driving certificates is unaffected. However, operators must ensure that certificates held by newly re-licensed drivers (and their registers of those certificates) refer to the correct licence.

This means that, UK train driving licences are required by 31 January 2022.

Train drivers operating international services or driving domestic services in an EU member state on the basis of an ORR-issued train driving licence will need to re-apply for a train driving licence in an EU country. The new licence will need to be in place by 1 January 2021. Train drivers should apply for and obtain this as soon as possible, where they have not already done so.

(9) From 1 January 2021, the placing of interoperability constituents on the UK market will be based on a UK conformity assessment process, requiring compliance with applicable UK National Technical Specification Notices (NTSNs).

For Northern Ireland, the UK text says “Further updates may be provided in relation to Northern Ireland due to a review of obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol.” This is the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK text says “It is currently expected that an interoperability constituent placed on the EU market up to 31 December 2020 with a certificate of conformity from a UK notified body will be able to be used within the EU for the period of validity of that certificate in subsystems or vehicles authorised before 1 January 2021.”

(10) Vehicles first authorised in the UK from 1 January 2021 will need to be authorised in the EU as well before they can be used in the EU. Vehicle authorisations issued in the EU up to 31 December 2020 will remain valid in the UK if the vehicle is already in use here prior to that date.

From 1 January 2021 vehicles first authorised outside the UK will require an additional authorisation before they are first used in the UK. This system will be operated in accordance with the UK’s COTIF international obligations.

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