Problem analysis and selection of relevant measures

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 flexibility and reliability of rail transport in cases of (un)expected disruptions on the rail network in the Rhine-Alpine Corridor, with particular focus on German-Dutch border crossings. It proceeds with describing the methodology used, followed by detailed problem analysis and identification of relevant measures for improving reliability and flexibility of rail transport in cases of disruptions.

Problems pertaining to the entirety of the rail network – or global issues – are competition from other modes, environmental costs, currently increasing delays and decreasing reliability, increasing costs and differences in definitions between Germany and the Netherlands. In analyzing issues of local scale, this Work Package focusses on German-Dutch border crossings. Here, problems are differences in electrification and safety systems, lack of communication, collaboration and data sharing between infrastructure managers, as well as limited flexibility and capacity, inefficient resource utilization and low priority being given to cross-border traffic.

Three main measures for improvement are identified:

  • First, and most importantly, data exchange, data analytics and data use for smart applications in the logistic chain are widely seen as promising. However, stakeholders are ambivalent as to which particular data should be exchanged and for which logistic activity.
  • Second, stakeholders are especially interested in whether alternative ways of planning train paths would be more flexible and efficient and what is necessary to realize this.
  • Third, Smart-Rail will look into the development, preparation and use of pre-identified alternatives in cases of disruptions.

As it has highest priority with the stakeholders, the Living Lab will focus on the first measure.

Regarding the first measure, the required parameters are identified by analysing the different roles and interactions of the stakeholders. Having collected the respective data, a smart application will be employed to make them accessible to users. Among the possibilities for data usability during the Living Lab implementation are:

  • The performance of rail freight services between Rotterdam-Duisburg/Neuss.
  • The hub concept terminal Rotterdam for exchange of containers, and
  • The pre-defined paths for short term slot allocation in Germany.

The second measure, concerning alternative ways of planning train paths, hinges on improved communication between Infrastructure Managers. To this end, Smart-Rail will deploy a communication toolbox for tackling the differences in definitions and will employ means to support the corridor governance.

The third measure, regarding pre-identified alternatives, will focus on the process to create such procedures. Infrastructure Managers may consider possible causes of disruptions and their probabilities, whereas rail users may evaluate alternative routes and related communication towards customers.


For more information please read the report on ‘Problem analysis and selection of relevant measures’