Implemented control tower concept and monitoring of results

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 Living Lab approach.

A specific Living Lab has been implemented which 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 Logistic Service Provider’s (LSP) 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). Implementing, testing and rolling out the solution will be carried out through the Continuous Improvement Track (CIT); the CIT iterative process will point out what is necessary for the deployment of the CT-Rail, what are the pitfalls and to what extent it could be rolled out and if not, what should be the changes in order to improve and promote the solution at first to the Bettembourg-Le Boulou corridor but later to potential other corridors.

a report hwas been written, describing the implementation of the control tower concept. It proceeds with setting out the main starting points for the required data exchange, and the key steps for implementation. Next, the operation of CT-Rail is discussed, including governance structure and architecture. This is followed by detailed description of the control tower’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as well as their measurements. Finally, baseline measurement results are presented.

Data exchange is to be established at three levels: from LSP to CT-Rail, from Railway Undertaking (RU) to LSP, and from Infrastructure Manager (IM) to CT-Rail. Therefore this CT-Rail will be a virtual platform of combining these three levels of different management systems in which each level will exchange data and managed by these three stakeholders. The data exchange can be based on direct interfacing (e.g. XML), RailData and on TSI TAF. Implementation, consequently, requires rules of data sharing and ownership, a governance model, (understanding of) the right data systems and interfaces, as well as launching and testing.

The governance structure is twofold, concerning CT-Rail itself and concerning the data used. Platform governance, however, falls within the scope of further deliverables and WP5 – Information availability. Concerning data, all data producing stakeholders are owner of their own data, and able to classify at will. Platform architecture revolves around event-driven (‘milestones’) data sharing towards the LSP. Rail data will be used for tracking & tracing of wagons.

In order to assess the impact of the operational CT-Rail, KPIs are used:

KPI 1:            Increased predictability through swift notification of delays.

KPI 2:            Increased awareness of shipment status through regular and precise status updates.

KPI 3:            More stable lead times through increased predictability.

KPI 4:            Reduced TCO through increased predictability.

KPI 5:            Availability of real-time status updates on the corridor.


As of August 2017 Control Tower Rail is operational. For door-to-door operational corridor management, LSP Seacon has developed a monitoring dashboard and an integrated module for its transport management system (TMS). For event management a work flow applies for the corridor, so required corrective actions can be taken and monitored. Monitoring of the KPIs under operational circumstances shows the clear benefits of the concept.

For more information on the monitoring and adjustment of the control tower concept please read the corresponding report.