Choice of corridor and design of control tower concept

In order to facilitate modal shift from road to rail, as set out in the European Commission’s White Paper on Transport, the rail freight sector faces the challenge of providing the capacity for affordable and attractive services. The complexity of the European rail sector hampers the development of such services. Smart-Rail intends to define, implement and monitor new shipper-oriented rail freight concepts improving the competitive position of the rail sector through a Continuous Improvement Track approach.

This Work Package aims to improve the quality of rail services by reducing round-trip times, better rail capacity use, improving reliability and reducing transport costs. To this end, the existing logistic Control Tower IT-tool, which at present does not cover rail transport, will be extended with a rail freight service add-on: Control Tower Rail (CT-Rail). This will be carried out through a Continuous Improvement Track. The objective is to expand the use of CT-Rail from one corridor – Bettembourg-Le Boulou – to potential others.

This Work Package proceeds with setting the scope of the Continuous Improvement Track, including the main functions of CT-Rail and corridor selection. Next, an overview is given of existing issues hampering the competitiveness of rail and of measures to improve its position already taken in Europe. Finally, the CT-Rail architecture is derived. The existing Control Tower at Seacon Logistics manages transport flows and provides for real-time information for shippers, but at present does not cover rail. In order to integrate rail, the rail service add-on will developed and continuously improved. A Control Tower is an information sharing platform to support today’s planners in supply chain optimization and the fulfillment of the shipper’s requirements for supply chain visibility. The extensive services provided by Seacon on the corridor Bettembourg-Le Boulou make it promising for developing CT-Rail.

Challenges for the competitiveness of the rail sector, as derived from Work Package 2 (“Setting the scene”) and stakeholder consultation, primarily concern reliability, costs and visibility. As to the first, a striking similarity with the results from Continuous Improvement Track 3 (“Reliability of rail and (unexpected) obstructions on the track”) is that reliability of (ad hoc) train paths is found to be of great concern. Existing measures are present in European projects such as CREAM, BRAVO, FLAVIA and described in this deliverable. The Control Tower concept should provide for: data sharing platform, common semantics, and a governance model for data sharing.

The CT-Rail will be based on (re)use of existing systems and interfaces between systems that control different parts and levels in the supply chain. The core solution interfaces are being developed in Work Package 5 (“ICT to improve Rail Service Quality”) and they will be adapted for this CIT and described in detail in the report on ‘Information exchange required for the control tower concept’

The common semantics that are needed pertain to timing (ETA, ETD), real times (arrival and departure), train location, speed and velocity, and train composition. Finally, the governance model for data sharing should stipulate clearly which data will be shared and under which circumstances in this Continuous Improvement Track.

For more information please read the report on ‘Choice of corridor and design of control tower concept’