Certification is the process through which a “certification body” demonstrates whether specific requirements relating to a product, process, service, system have been fulfilled or not.
The “certification body” is a third-party entity, independent from the organisation or the product it assesses, which performs a conformity assessment activity.
If a component is covered by the EC declaration of conformity and if a subsystem is covered by the EC declaration of verification, then Member States will consider it as being interoperable and meeting the essential requirements.
About 120 people, from Railway Administrations, Industry, Ministerial and Governmental Offices participated in the rail transport workshop on Certification, held at UIC/Headquarters in Paris on 29 Oct. 09. So many people attending the workshop have confirmed that there is a need of information on such a new and complex subject.
Four Notified Bodies: Certifer (France), Cetren (Spain), Italcertifer (Italy) and Kema Rail Transport Certification (The Netherlands) took the floor with the main objective of explaining what certification, in the railway environment, is and what the major issues are when dealing with assessment activities.
As a matter of fact, all conformity assessment activities for the EC verification of a subsystem shall begin at the design stage and shall cover the whole manufacturing period, up to the type approval stage before the subsystem is placed into service. Related costs have to be budgeted since the beginning as investment costs and not as belated add-on or extra costs. They will make the system widely accepted, with quality guarantee and interoperable. All in all, certification is for the free movement of people/goods within the European Union – that was stated by Ms M. Carvajal of Cetren, during her preliminary speech.
A Notified Body (NoBo) is a conformity assessment body notified by a Member State to the European Commission and other Member States authorized to carry out third-party conformity assessment tasks under Community harmonised legislation.
The European Commission has set up a coordination group of Notified Bodies: “NB-RAIL”, which is a Forum for sharing experiences and exchanging views on the conformity assessment procedures in order to understand better and apply more consistently the Interoperability Directives. Their major activities relate to the drafting and issuing technical recommendations on matters relating to Railway Conformity Assessment and ensuring consistency with European standardisation work: (web site: http://forum.europa.eu.int/Public/irc/nbg/nbrail/home).
Mr C. Carganico, CEO and President of Italcertifer, had the idea of gathering a group of NoBos to deal with certification subjects and asked UIC to support and complete this initiative. We all thank him very much for this idea. He presented Italcertifer and its strong points in his introductory speech.
The President of Certifer and the Executive Director Messrs J. Couvert and M. Chantoiseau participated in the workshop and the latter presented the company overview.
Cetren was represented by Ms M. Carvajal External Affaires Director and former NB-Rail Chairwoman.
Kema Rail Transport Certification was presented by Mr L. Zigterman, Senior Assessor, conveying the apologies of Mr F. Walenberg, the Executive Director, being unable to participate.
During the afternoon session, each NoBo presented its experience and lessons learned on the field focusing on a wide variety of case studies: from certification of locomotives for ERTMS freight corridor A, Infrastructure, Energy, Control Command EC verifications, to TGV POS rolling stock certification. Questions & answers sessions have given the audience the opportunity of solving doubts and interacting with the speakers.
UIC is involved in the certification of Galileo for Rail, activity to be developed in three steps: first, certification of the Galileo signal-in-space; second, certification of the reference Galileo receiver and third certification of a safety-related application.
At the end of the day, Mr De Cicco of UIC, acting as moderator, together with the speakers tried to sum up the workshop outcomes in order to sketch a possible way forward.
Unanimous consensus was reached on the fact that this workshop is the first of a series of future thematic workshops to dig into specific topics to be identified. We are just at the beginning. The need of collecting a complete set of reliable data came out during the presentation of “Certification Cost issues” delivered by Mr L. Zigterman of Kema. Last but not least, international training is needed on this field.
UIC thanked the speakers for their commitment and professionalism, the audience for its active participation and stated its readiness to respond to Members needs on this subject.