Interoperability Constituents

The Railway Interoperability Directive 2008/57/EC defines interoperability constituents (ICs) as ‘any elementary component, group of components, subassembly or complete assembly of equipment incorporated or intended to be incorporated into a subsystem upon which the interoperability of the rail system depends directly or indirectly.’

The list of ICs are generally set out in chapter 5 of the relevant TSI. Examples of ICs for rolling stock include pantographs, brakes, wheels, a driver’s seat, horns, headlamps and so forth.

So for a product to be an IC it must meet certain conditions, so that the subsystem it’s destined for can meet the essential requirements (broadly, safety, reliability and availability, health, environmental protection, technical compatibility, accessibility).

These requirements are set out in the TSIs. Products which are deemed to be ICs in the TSIs can be assessed against the relevant TSI requirements and get the relevant certificates, independently of the subsystem into which they are integrated. The EC certificate for conformity and the EC declaration of conformity or suitability for use as an IC, is valid across the whole EU rail system.

Interoperability constituents and specific cases – national procedure

When a product is listed as an IC in the TSI and there is a specific case (a country has a specific requirement to do something different to the TSI) related to the IC requirements, it presents a challenge. This is because an IC designed to the specific case requirement (necessary to work in a country) may no longer be suitable for use across the EU rail system and may not be able to gain the necessary EC certificate for conformity. The absence of an alternative regime means that such products cannot independently gain relevant certifications, on which the subsystem manufacturers may be reliant to gain authorisation for their subsystem. This also means potentially no formal certificate for such products to re-use across projects in GB/UK.

To address this challenge, we have worked closely with the industry, ORR and the DfT to develop a UK national procedure for companies to follow in such a scenario. This is supported by DfT who asked us to develop an approach following the European Railway Agency’s technical opinion (ERA/OPI/2015-2) which concluded that a Member State can define its own national procedures in such a scenario.

National procedure for the assessment and certification of components which relate to Interoperability Constituents and UK/GB Specific Cases

Letter from Robin Groth, Rail Executive, Department for Transport to rail stakeholders about the National Procedure

The approach means that:

  • Projects relying on the supply of ICs will not be unnecessarily delayed or affected
  • Suppliers of products designed and destined for local, national markets are able to comply with the Regulations and so do business with their customers
  • Suppliers following the procedure also avoid the need for repeating tests and assessments each time the same component is used in subsequent projects within the UK.

Resources

National procedure for the assessment and certification of Interoperability Constitents
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