HomeIndustry NewsWhat does a Certification Body do?

What does a Certification Body do?

The role of a Certification body was described in the March 2020 RailStaff article. What follows is their role in a post-Brexit world. Although it appears that it is a case of “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, there are a lot of details to trip up the unwary.

Legislation to adopt EU law that UK wishes to continue to comply with has been adopted in UK law and since January 2021, the Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems (Safety) Regulations are once again the top level safety regulations covering railways safety management and includes authorisation and certifications, driver licencing, vehicle registration, Entities in Charge of Maintenance and the Common Safety Methods.

The Railways (Interoperability) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations have mandated that technical requirements that were contained in Technical Specifications for Interoperability will now be in National Technical Specification Notices (NTSN) with requirements unchanged for now, with the specific UK cases and other UK requirements in National Technical Rules (Railway Group Standards).

What is unchanged is that the essential requirements: conditions relating to safety; reliability and availability; health; environmental protection; technical compatibility and accessibility are contained in the NTSNs and currently they are unchanged from the former TSIs. As before, all this applies to all elements of GB’s main line railway (approximately but not exclusively Network Rail Infrastructure and trains that run on it; different rules apply in Northern Ireland, metros, tramways and heritage railways).

The legislation applies to significant new projects or significant alterations to existing assets/systems.

Significant projects/alterations must continue to be authorised by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), following the submission of a Technical File demonstrating that the essential requirements have been complied with. This demonstration has to be certified, and this is the role of certification bodies.

Prior to January 2021 Notified Bodies (NoBo) certified that TSIs had been complied with, Designated Bodies (DeBo) certified that Notified National Technical Rules had been complied with, and Assessment Bodies (AsBo) certified that safety management had been appropriately carried out in compliance with the EU’s Common Safety Method and that hazards/risks, have been appropriately identified, assessed, managed, closed and/or transferred. All three tasks continue to be carried out, but Notified Bodies are now known as Approved Bodies.

Approved Bodies (ApBo – the new acronym), DeBos and AsBos continue to be accredited by UKAS, the UK’s National Accreditation Service, and be approved by the DfT. There is no longer a requirement to notify them to the EU and they cannot work on NoBo, DeBo or AsBo work in the EU unless they either partner with a Certification Body based in Europe or set up a subsidiary based in Europe and seek EU accreditation.

Network Certification Body carries out all these functions and is also a Certifier of Entities in Charge of Maintenance – an activity required under legislation adopted by UK for freight vehicle maintenance. 

What is Project Speed?

Project Speed is part of a government strategy to rebuild Britain and fuel economic recovery by accelerating investment in core infrastructure across all sectors, including health, education, town centres, energy, flood defences, waste, roads – and rail. It is led by the Treasury, with the aim of cutting the delivery time and cost of projects.

What is PACE?

GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects), in use by Network Rail for the last 10 years, is being evolved into PACE (Project Acceleration in a Controlled Environment). In the words of Toby Elliott, Network Rail Head of Communications, “PACE is designed to deliver projects more quickly, at lower cost and higher quality. PACE will start to be rolled out from the beginning of next year, but there will be many projects still going through the GRIP steps as it will take time to get the new PACE process right.”

For a full explantion of GRIP see www.railengineer.co.uk/grip

The principles of managing though stage gates does not change but there is a huge emphasis on leadership, attitude and competence supported by the PACE process rather than pedantic, slow and expensive adherence to process which was the point made by GRIP’s critics.