At its meeting last week, the Federal Council decided to create the necessary basis for this approval procedure by amending the Railways Act, because the country has a great interest in ensuring that cross-border rail traffic functions as smoothly and unhindered as possible. This is particularly true with regard to encouraging the transfer of transalpine freight traffic to the railways.
For a long time, rolling stock manufacturers and railway companies that wanted to use new trains in several countries had to go through an approval procedure in each country. With the so-called technical pillar of the fourth railway package, the EU has harmonised and simplified these procedures: from mid-June 2019, the European Railway Agency (ERA) will be responsible for approving rolling stock for cross-border traffic. At present, manufacturers and companies from Switzerland can participate in the unified European procedures thanks to a transitional solution that is limited until the end of 2023.
In the longer term, the Federal Council plans to adopt the new EU solution on a permanent basis. To this end, it intends to amend the Railways Act. Following a largely positive response to the consultation, the Federal Council submitted the corresponding bill to parliament at its meeting last week. In order for Switzerland to participate fully and on a permanent basis in European procedures, the agreement between Switzerland and the EU on land transport must also be amended. Due to the unresolved institutional issues between Switzerland and the EU, this is not yet possible.