ECM stands for the "Entity in Charge of Maintenance," the organization/entity having the full responsibility for any the maintenance issue of freight wagons. According to the Rules for Certification and Auditing of Entities in Charge of Maintenance (the "Regulation") of the Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail ("OTIF"), which came into force on June 1, 2013, the ECMs must be evaluated and certified by an independent institution. Every freight wagon used by an international entity must be maintained by a particular ECM.

Gathering the Regulations Together
OTIF was established on May 1, 1985 under the Convention on International Carriage by Rail ("COTIF"), which was concluded in 1980. The main purpose of the OTIF is to harmonize and coordinate the regulations, providing for the freight and passenger transportation through railroads, between the States and the groups of States, and to formulate uniform legal instruments, principles and rules to achieve those objectives. Turkey is a member state of the OTIF as well.

The OTIF member states must assure that all freight wagons within their borders are manufactured secure and regularly maintained. That provision exists simply because it is not possible for other states to check the technical state of those freight wagons at the time they cross the borders between the states. Therefore, the regulations among the states have been unified to ensure the quality and the technical condition of the freight wagons. These arrangements gave a great relief to the member states in this respect. Finally, according to the Regulation, freight wagons without any certified ECMs will not be accepted into the EU and the member states of OTIF.

How to be an ECM and What about the Certificate?
Any entity, be it a local or foreign one, meeting the requirements of obtaining ECM certificates can be an ECM at the same time. Therefore, the possessor or the operator of a freight wagon can be an ECM as long as it meets the requirements of obtaining such certificate. With the certificate, the ECM is entitled to maintain the relevant freight wagon in the very same place at which such freight wagon is situated. Moreover, it is the operator's responsibility to assign and meet the expenses of an ECM regarding a respective freight wagon; however, the possessor is always entitled to change the ECM even though the operator is qualified as an ECM.

ECM Functions
ECMs have 4 functions as stated below:

1. Management Function: manages, coordinates and controls other functions;

2. Maintenance Development Function: creates a maintenance log for each freight wagon;

3. Maintenance Management of a Fleet Function: drafts documents, orders maintenance;

4. Maintenance Supply Function: carrying out maintenance of a car or its parts.

In practice there exists another certificate for the maintenance functions, namely the Maintenance Function Certificate, which is usually being confused with the ECM certificate. Maintenance Function certificates have only the functions of management and maintenance supply, and are provided to the workshops. In Turkey, Acarlar A.S., Va-Ko A.S. and Rayvag A.S. hold those Maintenance Function certificates. On the other hand, in order to obtain an ECM certificate, one must be able to function all above stated four tasks. In Turkey, only Turkish State Railways ("TCDD") and Acarlar A.S. holds the ECM certificate.

Many Changes are on the way for Turkey!
When the liberalization of TCDD and the establishment of TCDD Tasimacilik A.S. is finalized, these ECM certification processes will need to be amended and there will be more private entities holding ECM certificates. With all the advancements planned to increase the effectiveness of railway transportation in Turkey, obviously, Turkey will attract a great interest both of the domestic and foreign investors. As Serap Zuvin Law Offices, because we are genuinely interested and vigorously following up the progresses made in the railway sector, we will be keeping the investors, our clients and readers updated on any improvements of the railway sector together with its legal framework.