France aims for better rail capacity management following disputes
France is rethinking the processes of train capacity allocation in its railway network. After some disputes between rail operators and the infrastructure manager SNCF Réseau, the Transport Regulatory Authority of France (ART) opened a consultation round to establish an “incentive scheme encouraging both applicants and SNCF Réseau to make better use of the capacity”.
ART also explained that for transparency reasons and better action coordination, it will publish the consultation contribution of all sides after the process ends, excluding “parts protected by law and parts that contributors would like to keep confidential”.
Disputes in France
The latest consultation round between ART, rail network users and the French infrastructure manager SNCF Réseau comes after a period of slight turbulence in the country’s railway sector. A couple of weeks ago, ART resolved a network access dispute between rail operators and SNCF Réseau.
The dispute concerned “the technical conditions and operations for access to the railway network” and involved operators like Captrain France, T3M, Europorte and Régiorail. The operators approached ART in February 2021 and requested to intervene and change the procedures for train path allocation, the management and use of reserved infrastructure capacities by SNCF Réseau to carry out work and the principles and procedures for compensation and complaints.
In the end, ART decided in favour of the operators satisfying two-thirds of their requests. Its decisions have a binding character that will aim to facilitate the French IM’s seamless and transparent operations and decision-making processes, which will also result in a better functioning railway network.