Position paper: Capacity Regulation - More train paths for freight 26/10/23

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Capacity Regulation: More and better-quality train paths for freight

The European Commission’s proposal for a new Rail Infrastructure Capacity Management Regulation has been highly anticipated by the users of rail freight transport, and as such Combined Transport Operators. Combined Transport accounts for about half of the tonne-kilometres of rail freight activities, and intermodal is the most dynamically performing production system of rail freight. Combined Transport employs intermodal transhipment techniques, which enable the most efficient insertion of non-road modes of transport – such as electric rail freight and waterborne vessels – into long-distance unimodal road transport.

The proposed new Rail Infrastructure Capacity Management Regulation has been introduced as part of the Greening Freight Transport Package because freight needs more and better-quality train paths to deliver the modal shift needed to achieve European climate, energy and transport policy objectives. Growth in the number of passenger trains seen during recent years absorbed all available rail infrastructure capacity, which turned many lines into “highly utilised” or even “congested”. Yet, only intermodal freight trains delivered meaningful modal shift.

Socio-economic and environmental cost benefit analysis has been introduced as a decision-assisting tool for infrastructure managers and capacity allocation bodies. Decision-making should be improved in 3 areas:

  • Capacity allocation during the timetabling process;
  • Bypass capacity design and allocation during force majeure and maintenance works-related TCRs; and
  • Traffic management situations.

UIRR proposes the following key changes to improve the proposed Capacity Regulation from the perspective of rail freight operations:

1. Introduce a minimum train length requirement for train path applications on highly utilised or congested sections of line: rail infrastructure is designed and built to carry heavy and long trains, therefore light weight and short trains should only be allowed if capacity utilisation allows it.

2. Remove constraints on bypass capacity design: rail infrastructure managers should not be limited to defining bypass solutions on their own network but, if sensible, involve neighbouring networks. The bypass should take into consideration other modal alternatives.

3. European train path categories and hierarchy: European train path categories should be offered in the Regulation such as an “express freight train”, which should command superior timetable speed, punctuality and reliability KPIs to guide traffic management decisions.

The Combined Transport sector supports the position put forward by ERFA, the European Rail Freight Association, on the proposed Capacity Regulation[1](---Read further and download the pdf below)



[1] https://erfarail.eu/uploads/ERFA%20POSITION%20-%20Railway%20Infrastructure%20Capacity%20in%20the%20Single%20European%20Railway%20Area-1694591104.pdf


TO READ FURTHER, please download the full Position Paper at the bottom of this page:

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UIRR Position paper: Capacity Regulation EN