EPF has supported the work of the European Railway Agency (ERA) since ERA was established. Long-standing EPF Board member Chris Irwin from the UK has led and shaped ERA’s management board for many years. Since 2023, Delphine Grandsart (Senior Researcher at EPF) and Josef Schneider (EPF Chairman) represent EPF in the ERA board.

ERA has just celebrated its 20th anniversary. To mark this event, ERA has published a comprehensive report. At EPF, we consider this an opportunity to take stock of ERA’s work.

For EPF, all of ERA’s activities, including technical standardization and European harmonization, must ultimately benefit end-users of the railway system, and facilitate a modal shift by making rail more affordable and more attractive. The quantity and quality of ERA’s work is impressive. However, the question remains as to how much of this work is actually being used by the railways for the benefit of passengers.

In particular, one gap remains: multi-provider ticketing. It is still extremely difficult to book a railway journey which includes legs operated by different providers, or legs in different EU Member States. Some large operators outrightly refuse to cooperate with competitors. As a result, many passengers fly or take their cars, rather than going through the burdensome process of buying tickets for multi-provider railway journeys.

EPF would very much welcome if ERA could become more active here, in the interest of passengers. There are already many good approaches in ERA’s 2024-2026 Work Programme, and in ERA’s 2023 annual report. However, ERA often lacks internal capacity to work on dedicated measures in this area.

Comparing ERA’s budget to that of EU agencies working on other modes of transport, such as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), it is obvious that ERA is underfunded. Over the last few years, there has even been a reduction in some areas compared to previous years.

At EPF, we believe adequate funding is substantial for ERA to work on its important goals. If the Green Deal is to be taken seriously and if ERA shall be able to produce meaningful work for passengers in the future, ERA’s budget must increase significantly. This remains a major task for the new Parliament and Commission.

Source: 20 years of ERA (https://www.era.europa.eu/system/files/2024-04/20%20years%20of%20ERA.pdf)

Source: 20 years of ERA (https://www.era.europa.eu/system/files/2024-04/20%20years%20of%20ERA.pdf)