Transport | Policy Brief
New rules for better rail capacity management
13 November 2023
Rail has a key role to play in making EU transport more efficient and sustainable, in line with the goals of the EU’s sustainable and smart mobility strategy. Increasing passenger and cargo volumes requires investment in infrastructure but also a more efficient track capacity management, particularly for cross-border services. Regulation (EU) 913/2010 introduced cooperation mechanisms to ensure sufficient, flexible and high-quality infrastructure capacity along EU rail corridors for rail freight operators. Unfortunately, Regulation (EU) 913/2010 did not achieve its objectives, due to the difficulty of managing capacity separately for corridors and for freight without involving the rest of the network and passenger traffic. Accordingly, on 11th July 2023, the Commission proposed a new Regulation on the use of railway infrastructure capacity in the single European railway area. The Regulation is inspired by an industry led project (Timetable Redesign – TTR) and includes major novelties: (1) a revised multi-annual planning cycle for management and allocation of capacity; (2) reinforced mechanisms for coordination among stakeholders; (3) transparent rules for capacity allocation, particularly in case of scarce infrastructure capacity, including socio-economic and environmental criteria; (4) more flexible timing for capacity allocation; (5) better coordination for cross-border services; (6) a Performance Review mechanism; and (7) stronger role for existing entities (ENIM, ENRRB) and a new Network Coordinator. The 23rd Florence Rail Forum gathered representatives from the Commission, national regulatory bodies, stakeholders (mostly Infrastructure Managers and Railway Undertakings) and academics for a discussion on how to better manage rail capacity in the EU. More specifically, the Forum addressed the following critical questions: (i) Capacity planning: Formalizing the dialogue for capacity planning and allocation. What would be the best instruments to ensure the fruitful dialogue between IMs and RUs, but also Regulatory Bodies and other stakeholders for capacity planning and allocation? (ii) Capacity allocation: Defining harmonized prioritization criteria. How to define prioritization criteria in case of scarce infrastructure capacity? Definition of socio-economic and environmental criteria (iii) Track Access Charges
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