Legislation National & European
The older Irish laws concerning railways include the Acts cited in schedules 1 and 2 of the Railway Safety Act 2005. These laws may be found at the Irish Statute Book website. The principal Acts governing railway safety were the Regulation of Railways Acts 1842, 1868, 1871 and 1889, the Railway Returns Act 1878 and the Railway Employment Act 1900. The other Railway and Transport Acts of the 19th and 20th century mainly concerned commercial and property management.
The Railway Safety Act 2005 fundamentally changed the way that railway safety was managed and regulated. It requires railway companies to submit their own safety management system (SMS) for certification by the RSC, which in turn supervised the application of the SMS. The Act applies to all railways in the State. However, safety certification, safety authorisation and safety audit of railway organisations working on the national network are now dealt with under European law through Directives and Regulations.
In 2016 the European Union adopted the recast Railway Safety Directive EU 2016/798 which updated European rail legislation. This Directive has been given effect through Statutory Instrument SI 476 EU (Railway Safety) Regulations 2020. SI 476 2020 addresses safety management certification and authorisation, the CRR as the safety authority for and enforcement of the heavy rail system in the State.
Under Railways Regulations SI No 249 of 2015, and in accordance with Directive 2012/34/EU the CRR has the following functions:
independent monitoring body (s.9) of the performance of the infrastructure manager of its management contract obligations;
regulatory body (s.29) particularly in regard to ensuring non-discriminatory access to the railway market, and
licensing authority (s.35) for issuing licences.
New and altered cableways are regulated by the CRR, which acts as the competent authority under Regulation 2016/424/EU, this regulation can be viewed here.
Irish Regulations SI 470 of 2003, by which the RSC was first designated as the competent authority, became redundant when Directive (EC) 2000/9 was repealed by 2016/424/EU.
Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the single European railway area emerged from three directives:
Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community's railways,
Directive 95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings and
Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure.
The three directives were recast and merged into a single Directive 2012/34/EU in the interest of clarity. It has subsequently been amended by Directives 2016/2370/EU and 2017/2075/EU. This can be viewed here.
The single EU railway area directive lays down:
the management rules for railway infrastructure and rail transport activities;
the licensing criteria for railway undertakings;
the criteria for setting and collecting railway infrastructure charges and the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity.
Railway safety and interoperability – regulatory arrangements:
The Directives on railway safety and railway interoperability relate closely to each other. Their combined purpose is to improve railway interoperability and standardisation and encourage an open EU competitive market while at least maintaining railway safety levels.
Under the current railway safety Directive, each national safety authority must respectively safety certify or safety authorise, and must supervise, the safety management systems for each railway undertaking and each infrastructure manager.
Under the current interoperability Directive, the national safety authority assesses the conformity of subsystems, authorises their placing in service and supervises their correct use in the State.
From 16th June 2020, the EU Agency for Railways will issue a single safety certificate to any railway undertaking with an area of operation in one or more Member State. It will also be EU system authority for ERTMS mobile and fixed installations for train control and management, and it will authorise the placing vehicles on the market in one or more Member States.
The national safety authority will retain its supervisory role and will continue to authorise infrastructure managers and the placing in service of fixed installations. It may, on request, authorise placing any vehicle on the market where the area of use limited to the State. It may also issue a single safety certificate to any railway undertaking so long as its area of operation is limited to the Member State.
Local operations across frontiers may be addressed by cross-border agreement at State level. They may also be addressed by contractual arrangements between the accessing operator and a safety certified railway undertaking or safety authorised infrastructure manager in the State, provided that the safety-related aspects are duly reflected in the certified or authorised safety management system.
Railway safety Directive:
Railway safety is currently addressed by Directive 2004/49/EC on safety on the Community's railways and amending Directive 95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings and Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification (Railway Safety Directive) as corrected in OJ L 220, 21.6.2004, p. 16, and amended by Directive 2008/57/EC, Directive 2008/110/EC, Directive 2009/149/EC, Directive 2012/34/EU and Directive 2014/88/EU. The directive can be viewed here.
This Directive will be superseded on 16th June 2020 by Directive (EU) 2016/798 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on railway safety (recast). The directive can be viewed here.
Railway interoperability Directive:
Railway interoperability is currently addressed by Directive 2008/57/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the interoperability of the rail system within the Community (Recast) (Text with EEA relevance)
The directive can be viewed here.
This will be superseded on 16th June 2020 by DIRECTIVE (EU) 2016/797 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 May 2016 on the interoperability of the rail system within the European Union (recast) (Text with EEA relevance)
The directive can be viewed here.
New and altered cableways are regulated by the CRR which acts as competent authority under Regulation (EU) 2016/424 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on cableway installations and repealing Directive 2000/9/EC (Text with EEA relevance), with corrigendum.
The regulation can be viewed here.