Influence the National Technical Specification Notices revisions

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We have recently begun a consultation process on revisions to the National Technical Specification Notices (NTSNs) and we’re keen to see as much industry input as possible. We want colleagues from across the industry to give us their comments and opinions on the proposed revisions. But what are NTSNs? Why are they so important? And what happens after the consultation? Read on to find out…

What are NTSNs?

NTSNs were published in January 2021 to replace the European Union’s Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs) after Britain’s exit from the European Union. They ensured a smooth transition by preserving the technical content of the TSIs in Britain at the point of Brexit. These contain technical requirements that apply to all new rail subsystems and any major upgrades or renewals. They are published by the Department for Transport (DfT) and these requirements become law.

What’s happening?

Since the initial publication of the NTSNs there have been no significant updates to either NTSNs or TSIs. However, this recently changed when the TSIs were revised by the EU in September 2023. We now have the opportunity to consider these revisions and decide whether to implement similar requirements in Britain through the NTSNs or diverge from requirements in the TSIs if it is in the interest of Britain and our rail industry.

What are we doing?

Based on the processes that we apply for our standards development, RSSB is putting together the formal industry recommendation to the DfT as the basis on which to revise NTSNs. As the TSIs have been developed, we’ve been working in parallel with industry experts in mirror groups to get this process underway. This has meant that we are in an excellent position to respond to these TSI revisions in a very timely manner.

Standards committees have now approved our corresponding NTSN proposals to proceed with industry consultation, and we’ve begun the consultation process for these proposed changes.

What do the revisions cover?

The proposed revisions to the NTSNs cover:

  • control command and signalling
  • rolling stock – locomotive and passenger
  • rolling stock – noise
  • rolling stock – freight wagons
  • persons with reduced mobility
  • infrastructure
  • energy
  • operations and traffic management.

There are a wide range of changes to each NTSN most of them are clarifications or enhancements of existing requirements, so are relatively minor and wouldn’t change GB practice. Of the more major changes, many of the proposals so far are to take the same approach as the TSIs. However, there are likely to be some NTSN proposals that are different from the revised TSI following an assessment and justification of why this would better serve GB interests. We will also be taking the opportunity to address some of the known issues with NTSNs that came to light after they were first published.

What’s the process?

We are putting the NTSN revisions through the same rigorous process that we use for Railway Group Standards. The proposed changes to the NTSNs have already been approved by the relevant standards committees and the Industry Standards Co-ordination Committee (ISCC) and we have recently opened a full industry consultation on the proposals.

The consultation period closes on the 11 December. After this time we will consider and respond to all consultation comments and use these to update the NTSN proposals. Between February and March 2024 the final industry recommendations will be sent to standards committees and ISCC for them to approve as the formal recommendation to the DfT on behalf of the industry for their consideration and publication.

How can you input?

You can take part in the consultation through our consultation portal. The portal contains a draft of the NTSN text and a business case for change to help you navigate the proposals and allow you to focus on your areas of interest and expertise. The consultation closes on 11 December.

For more information, watch our recent webinar. If you have further questions, please contact the team.

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