Rail Capacity Management

Rail has a key role to play in making transport more efficient and sustainable in the EU and elsewhere. However, increasing passenger and cargo volumes require investment in infrastructure, and also more efficient track capacity management. This issue of Network Industries Quarterly focuses on the capacity dimension of railway infrastructure, and in particular on how to increase capacity for both passenger and freight railway undertakings (RUs), as availability of reliable railway infrastructure capacity is a condition for the much-needed modal shift from road (and air) to rail. Needless to say, capacity management takes place in a situation of growing competition for track and it is necessary to ensure non-discriminatory treatment of competing RUs when it comes to track availability and usage. Somewhat paradoxically, this gives the infrastructure manager (IM) an important and more active role than was previously the case, and at the same time requires an independent regulator to not only supervise non-discrimination but also ensure that the IM stays within its legal mandate, not to mention the fact that capacity needs to be planned, financed and built well ahead of time.

In his contribution entitled Regulating active infrastructure management in railways, Juan Montero shows the growing importance of infrastructure managers in capacity management, and also the need to ensure that they act in the public interest.

Dariush Kowsar and Alain Quinet’s paper on Capacity Management as a cost-effective way to boost Rail Traffic in Europe shows how a combination of careful planning and digitalisation can contribute to more efficient investment, improved network utilisation and overall lower costs of the available capacity.

Paolo Beria explores the relationship between Track access charges and capacity management. More precisely, he argues for including capacity pricing elements such as track access charges and illustrates this with the example of Italian high-speed railways.

Martin Aronsson addresses the issue of Flexibility in the railway capacity allocation process and argues for some slack in the capacity allocation planning process as capacity usage by train operating companies can never be fully planned ahead of time.

 

Matthias Finger

Publication Director