ECM certification mandatory from June 2022 for all rail vehicles

Article: ECM certification mandatory from June 2022 for all rail vehicles

A team of experts from DB Systemtechnik accompanies all ECMs on the way to this certification

(Kirchmöser, January 2021) From June 2022, a statutory ECM certification will apply to all rail vehicles in the European railway sector, as we already know for freight wagons. From this point on, each ECM (ECM – Entity in Charge of Maintenance) must provide evidence of a functioning and certified ECM system.

For even more safety and quality in rail traffic, the European Commission had reorganized the responsibility for the maintenance of rail vehicles with the following basic ideas.

  • Clear definition of the maintenance responsibility (is exclusively with the ECM office).
  • Mastery of all relevant processes in maintenance through a process-oriented maintenance management system
  • Definition of uniform detailed requirements for maintenance management systems in the European railway sector
  • Evidence of the suitability of the ECM body through a certification system

These basic ideas result in many individual requirements that must be met by the "office responsible for maintenance" by the end of May 2022 and confirmed by certification.

The DB Systemtechnik team of experts accompanies all ECMs on the way to this certification and advises which steps are important in the certification process, which legal issues need to be considered and also helps to identify and promote optimization potential.

More informations about ECM?

Then read the interview with our maintenance specialist Dr. Harald Ackermann from March 2018 - because it is still up to date:

Mr. Ackermann, is Appendix III of the ECM regulation under your pillow?


No, the regulation was never there, but I would say that it kept my team and I busy almost around the clock for a certain period of time. Because the approx. 160 individual requirements in Annex III of the European regulation on the new regulation of maintenance responsibility had to be worked through by us in detail. This is the only way we can give customers the best advice on how to meet ECM requirements.

So what is an ECM or the ECM regulation?

ECM is perhaps a somewhat cumbersome term. The abbreviation stands for "Entity in Charge of Maintenance" and means in German "the body responsible for maintenance". With the goal of safety and quality in railway traffic, the European Commission has reorganized the responsibility for the maintenance of rail vehicles and dedicated a separate chapter to the topic of maintenance in the new directive for railway safety. In § 14 of Ril (EU) 2017/798, the necessity of the ECM, tasks and responsibilities as well as their structure are fundamentally regulated.
But things get really exciting in the so-called ECM regulation VO EU 445/2011 already mentioned above. This regulates in detail the procedure for the certification of freight wagons - ECM including of course the "notorious" Appendix III with the above-mentioned approx. 160 individual requirements to be met.

And what is the basic idea of the new regulation on maintenance responsibility?

The basic ideas of the new regulations in maintenance can be briefly outlined with the following points:

1. Clear definition of maintenance responsibility. This lies exclusively with the ECM office.
2. Mastery of all relevant processes in maintenance through a process-oriented maintenance management system
3. Definition of uniform detailed requirements for maintenance management systems in the European railway sector
4. Proof of the suitability of the ECM body through a system of certification

The directive for railway safety with the above § 14 applies to all vehicles traveling on the European railway network. Without distinction, the respective ECM for freight wagons, passenger trains, ancillary vehicles or traction vehicles must already be determined and stored in the vehicle register. In addition, for freight wagons, the "ECM Regulation" and the associated obligation to certify freight wagons - ECM is legally binding. The fulfillment of the approximately 160 individual requirements is a prerequisite for successful certification.

When is there a need for action for the other vehicles?

Actually immediately! We estimate 2019 or later. 2020 with the fact that the ECM regulation and thus the certification obligation will also become legally binding for all other rail vehicles. Then the ECM of these railway vehicles or the operators of maintenance facilities of these vehicles must also meet the ECM requirements and have an ECM certificate. Incidentally, this also applies to manufacturers who want to assume responsibility for maintenance or parts thereof for vehicles.

And what specific action is required there?

The designation of the ECM and its entry in the vehicle register are already binding for all vehicles. The requirement for certification of the ECM for all vehicles will therefore be new. The ECM, i.e. the entity in charge of maintenance, must then set up a maintenance management system, follow it and establish processes that can be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the maintenance process. Then, e.g. in Germany, the EBA or an independent testing institute determined by the EBA checks the fulfillment of the maintenance responsibility and issues an ECM certificate.

What is an ECM 1, 2, 3 or 4?

We haven't really gone into the ECM detail yet. I'm happy to explain it, albeit in a very simplified way. Pillars ECM 1 to 4 deal with respective sub-areas of the overall maintenance responsibility, which in practice is really often spread over several positions.

The ECM 1 or maintenance management function has overall responsibility for the structure and effectiveness of the maintenance management system. She always has her hat on, so to speak, and commissions and monitors the other ECM functions.

The maintenance development function ECM 2 defines the maintenance specifications. What needs to be checked or maintained, how often and with what result? Which set of rules applies? Which individual maintenance program must be applied in relation to the specific purpose of the vehicle (mountain route, high speed, curves, loads)? For this purpose, the ECM 2 is also responsible for the monitoring of the vehicles and the constant further development of the maintenance specifications derived from this. Hence the name "maintenance development".

The ECM 3 or fleet management function is responsible for ensuring that vehicles are taken out of service in a timely manner and sent for maintenance. She selects the right workshop and commissions it. In addition to the clear maintenance order (e.g. deadline 1 or 2), it also hands over the applicable set of rules. After the maintenance and feedback has been completed, the vehicles are returned to operation.

What is still missing is of course the actual maintenance implementation - in the wording of the ECM regulation - the maintenance provision ECM 4. The ECM 4 is the executive, i.e. the workshop itself. The body that is responsible for the provision of maintenance. There, the maintenance order must be processed, documented and archived. From there, feedback must also be given to the ECM 3 about the completion of the commissioned work, but also about work that has not been completed.

Does it sound like a long way to get the ECM certificate in your pocket?

Yes, it is definitely an effort that should not be underestimated to set up a corresponding maintenance management system and to receive the ECM certification. But if you are already working as a maintenance technician today, the effort is limited. Nevertheless, he has to put his existing maintenance and risk management system to the test and check it against the 160 individual requirements of the ECM regulation.

What do you wish for, Mr. Ackermann?

Me and my company would be happy if companies came to us with ECM issues and other maintenance issues. With our knowledge and experience, we can advise companies in the rail sector really well on how to set up good maintenance for their fleet or on the best individual way to get the ECM certification.

As an ECM administration assistant who also carries out ECM certifications himself on behalf of the Federal Railway Authority, DB Systemtechnik, i.e. I and my colleagues know what is important.