TTR - Timetable Redesign

Railway undertakings (RUs) can order train paths either for a whole year or at short notice during an ongoing annual timetable. All RUs aim to place their train path orders in an annual timetable. In practice, freight railway undertakings order train paths to a large extent on-spec and usually more than they need. The bottom line is that this leads to wasted infrastructure capacity. The Timetable Redesign project now aims to counteract this.

"Zügig erklärt"- TTR Timetable Redesign

How Timetable Redesign (TTR) optimises the timetable process while protecting the climate.

  • Transcript of video for reading

    „zügig erklärt“ Timetable Redesign (TTR) – explanatory video
    textinserts, music in the background

    Zügig erklärt, How Timetable Redesign (TTR) optimises the timetable process and protects the climate.

    Railway undertakings order train paths for their trains – i.e. track capacities – from the infrastructure manager.

    Train paths can be ordered at the latest 8 months before the timeable change for an entire year or at short notice during an ongoing annual timetable.

    In passenger service, annual demand is easy to plan, while in freight traffic only 25 percent of orders are stable.
    -  Passenger railway undertaking
    -  Freight railway undertaking

    In the annual timetable, freight railway undertakings mostly order train paths in a greater amount and on the basis of temporary market assessments. This blocks valuable infrastructure capacities.

    Therefore, the European infrastructure managers have designed a new process for drawing up the annual timetable.
    Timetable Redesign, TTR for short

    This process is already being implemented in three pilot operations.
    Rotterdam–Antwerp
    Mannheim–Miranda de Ebro
    Munich–Verona

    Infrastructure managers – and no longer freight railway undertakings – book and protect sufficient capacities in the annual timetable for freight traffic.

    This allows infrastructure managers to recapture previously blocked capacities and freight railway undertakings are able to order train paths based on actual demand at any time.

    Passenger railway undertakings can order train paths even earlier and thus receive an earlier allocation in the annual timetable. Their capacities remain unaltered.

    Consequently, through TTR the market needs of passenger and freight transport customers are being fulfilled and due to organisational measures previously blocked capacties become available again.

    These additional capacities can be used to shift more freight traffic to rail.

    The objective is the augmentation of the market share in Europe from 18 percent to 30 percent by 2030.

    Thus, TTR also makes an important contribution to archieving the European climate objectives.

How does a railway undertaking get a train path?

Railway Undertakings (RUs) can order infrastructure capacity for their trains from the Infrastructure Manager (IM). This infrastructure capacity is called train paths in the legal framework. Train paths can be ordered either for a whole year or at short notice during a current annual timetable. The latter is done on the basis of remaining capacity. This is the capacity remaining after the allocation of train paths for an annual timetable. In order not to be dependent on residual capacity, all RUs endeavour to place their orders in an annual timetable as far as possible.

In fact, only 25% of train path requests for freight transport are stable.

Freight train on track

An annual timetable starts in mid-December and lasts 12 months. If you want to order train paths for an annual timetable, this must be done at least eight months before the timetable change. Therefore RUs order train paths eight to 20 months before the actual running day of the train. In principle this works in passenger transport, because the railway undertakings put an offer on the market and are convinced of the demand. In freight transport however, it is highly problematic to order train paths eight to 20 months before the train is due to run, unless the railway undertaking has contracts with end customers.

In practice, freight RUs order train paths to a large extent on suspicion and usually more than they need. In fact, only 25% of train path orders for freight transport are stable. 75% of orders are changed several times before one third of these train paths are finally cancelled.

The situation is difficult for European infrastructure managers. It leads to overbooking on large parts of the network, to a high and unnecessary use of resources due to the constant requests for changes and it prevents and impedes an efficient and flexible use of infrastructure capacity. All in all, the ordering behaviour leads to blocked and thus wasted infrastructure capacity.

The project TTR - Timetable Redesign

In 2017, the European IMs have decided to implement the TTR (Timetable Redesign) project and will carry it out under the umbrella of RailNetEurope (RNE) together with the RUs and their organisations Forum Train Europe (FTE) and European Rail Freight Association (ERFA).

The main findings from the customer surveys at the beginning of the project were

  • Passenger RUs would like to have their train paths allocated earlier, six months before the timetable change (currently three months); to this end they are also prepared to make their train path applications earlier than today (currently eight months before the timetable change).
  • For freight RUs, the current order date eight months before the timetable change is too early; they would like to have later order dates, preferably at any time.

Both market needs are satisfied with TTR. However, this requires that IMs reserve sufficient infrastructure capacity for freight traffic before the start of the ordering process and protect this capacity afterwards. The capacities for passenger traffic will not be restricted - but also not expanded. By reserving capacity for freight transport, the IMs (and no longer the RUs) regain capacity that was previously blocked, which they can use flexibly and efficiently at any time.