ESC developments in rail

In the Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017, ESC organised two joint workshops with railways to agree on a joint agenda to boost the competitiveness and attractiveness of rail freight for shippers. The joint agenda focuses on the needs to improve punctuality and reliability, to reduce operating costs and costs related to track access charges, to increase flexibility for shippers, to maximise the use of available capacity and to improve the efficiency of last mile operations while investing in last mile infrastructure.

This joint discussion was taken at CEO level respectively with rail freight CEOs in Brussels in May 2017 and with infrastructure manager CEOs in Sopron in June 2017, and will lead to joint implementation of the action plan in the second half of 2017 and 2018.

Several projects and developments designed to make rail freight more attractive for its customers were unveiled during these meetings and the exchanges with CEOs. One of these projects is the redesign of the international timetabling, to increase the flexibility and responsiveness of rail freight. The project, managed by infrastructure manager association RNE and railway undertaking association FTE, will allow railway undertakings to benefit from good quality capacity at much shorter notice, allowing them to be more in tune with the needs of their freight customers active in volatile markets. FTE and RNE started implementing the project in June, and the rolling planning facilities will first be tested in December 2018.

Other ongoing rail developments presented by CEOs related to ongoing investments in digital solutions, in particular for tracking and tracing solutions. The railways also presented an ongoing project that should make it much easier for combined transport operators to provide estimated times of arrival to their customers. Some of these ongoing developments, also applicable to conventional rail freight, were presented to members of the ESC Railway Transport Council on 20 September in Brussels.

Meanwhile, work is ongoing on improvements to the rail freight corridor structure with the involvement of representatives from the entire transport chain and on the definition of KPIs to measure performance from the infrastructure manager side. ESC is heavily involved in this work. For further information, or to take part in the meetings of the ESC Railway Transport Council, please contact Pauline Bastidon –