New business models supporting cooperation within the rail freight sector

In the last few years there has been a strong political demand to shift more freight in Europe from road to rail, however no significant improvements have been achieved so far. The rail reform has influenced passenger transport and resulted in a multifaceted picture by companies – at least in those countries implementing the legislation consistently – that had led to higher passenger numbers, but in the contrast, freight transport by rail has stagnated or in some cases slightly declined.

This deliverable presents results of task 3.3 “Development of business models supporting cooperation within the rail sector”. The main objective is to analyse cooperation in the rail sector by using a step-by-step approach and find solutions that would increase cooperation and consequently contribute to the initial goal of the project and EU. One of the key steps is to identify key stakeholders and their characteristics in order to develop and propose an improved business model. The main question being answered in this task is, how can new business models improve cooperation within the rail freight sector by following the key objectives of the Smart-Rail project, reliability, lead time, costs, flexibility and visibility.

The development of a proposed business model is based on a general approach and a step-by-step procedure by taking into account successful practical examples from past projects. This deliverable focuses specifically on the identifying the current state of cooperation in the rail sector. Based on the previous deliverables, the main stakeholders and their interactions have been identified and the proposed business model have been developed in connection with the results of the Work Packages 6 to 8 (Continuous improvement Tracks 1 to 3). Appropriate findings are evaluated by considering the Value Case Methodology, coordination of activities with Work Package 4 is carried out, and experiences from earlier European projects RETRACK and ECOPMS are adopted.

The results of this deliverable show a proposed cooperation model that is based on the CITs. Similar approach as resulted in the proposed business model can be considered also for other segments of the rail sector. The proposed models have several variations, and can be structured based on the complexity of involved stakeholders. Proposed cooperation models that are described in this task are:

  • Management of idle capacity,
  • Bundling of existing trains for better capacity sharing, and,
  • Organisation of new train services.

The key findings of this deliverable are based on the proposed business models in the fact, that a neutral coordination body is required in order to improve rail freight services offered to the final customers, shippers. In addition, there is also a need for a data platform, where all necessary information would be gathered. Both aspects are required for a smooth coordination of the whole process that can consequently contribute to the overall goal of the EU.

Proposed business models can also influence on several bottlenecks identified in previous deliverables. Solutions based on the proposed business models can contribute primarily to the operative and partly the infrastructural problems occurred in the rail freight sector. The proposed cooperation models however, cannot solve regulatory bottlenecks or barriers in accessing the infrastructure which need to be addressed at a much higher level.