‘A train path is a commitment, and when not used it should be returned’
When a train path is missed or cancelled, it is lost. This is the reality railway undertakings and infrastructure managers face regularly, and that is a shame when considering that the available capacity on the European network is scarce. This is why rail lobbyists in Brussel are advocating financial incentives towards a more efficient usage of the available infrastructure.
The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) put forward a position paper to harmise these incentives, which it refers to as Commercial Conditions, yesterday on Wednesday 1 February. “Commercial conditions should be designed to incentivise capacity-friendly behaviour for all parties and be applied reciprocally to infrastructure managers and railway undertakings”, it says.
According to the CER, infrastructure managers and capacity allocation bodies, in coordination with RailNetEurope (RNE) and in consultation with railway undertakings/applicants, should develop and implement principles for commercial conditions that are aligned and harmonised Europe wide, and by a certain date.
Currently there are no clear and Europe-wide aligned principles for Commercial Conditions for train path requests. While the European legal basis for Commercial Conditions is Directive 2012/34/EU, Commercial Conditions are treated differently in different Member States, the CER explains. “This leads to unbalanced and unsynchronised ordering processes, as well as frequent changes in train path requests, and unnecessary blocking of capacity which ultimately can lead to a waste of capacity.”
“To ensure an efficient use of available rail capacity, IMs must be able to rely on RUs using the train paths that they have requested. At the same time, RUs need reliable information on available capacity and stable path allocation over a sufficiently long period”, it writes in the position paper, providing several suggestions.
A path concluded is a commitment from both sides, the market need for a train path must be confirmed, returning it when the market need changes and the ability to withdraw train paths when they are too often not being used are just a few of the suggestions. The full position paper can be found here.
With current “attending maintenance” (an “optimal maintenance” strategy…) regrettably track (railway) strategy is sub optimal – and now planning is “mission impossible”.
Alternatively, as with all other contemporary modes, with resiliency (robustness) provided for and track, etc… is safely calculable – and service (maintenance) sequences may be planned for…,
then basics for high capacity and high utilisation, of vast railway assets – inter modality, etc. – safely will be provided for!