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15. WP2: Current state-of-the-art of European rail freight services
November 16th, 2007
Progress report on WP2

WP2 is in the process of completing an extensive state of the art analysis of rail freight services in Europe. Each task has been a significant activity in its own right and the progress is summarised below:

Task 2.1: Transhipment techniques

Task 2.1 conducted a state-of-the-art survey on different types of intermodal loading units, the role of actors for efficient terminal operation, transhipment functional elements, transhipment area, design layout, and transhipment techniques and related EC funded projects. On the RETRACK corridor there are inland and port terminals. The port terminals are dominated by ISO containers whereas the inland terminal handles both continental and ISO containers. Thus, the transhipment technique for a rail terminal will depend on the type of container being handled.

Task 2.2: Information and communication techniques

The needs for ICT systems will vary with the business model that is chosen. Cross-border block trains serving relatively few customers is a different proposal to handling European-wide distribution of wagon loads. The unsuitability of a system can only be determined relative to what the customer needs. That is lack of essential features, lack of quality, problems in handling an increasing number of transactions etc.

The deliverable presents a range of previous EC-projects, results from interviews with the operators, and state of the art solutions. An overview of different program architectures for building business solutions is presented.

Deliverable 2.2 thus covers the areas mentioned in the task description and presents a broad range of material. The document is a very good start-up description for WP 4 to develop just the solution a customer needs to run the train.

Task 2.3: Terminal technology and system

Task 2.3 evaluates terminal technology and systems that can play an important role in the movement of trains, lifting equipment, personnel and other resources to minimise terminal dwell time and cost. For this the literature review was conducted on previous projects including the SAIL study report (2002), INHOTRA WP2 Report (2002), and Compactterminal. The state-of-the-art survey discussed terminal handling equipment typology, terminal planning and operation, working procedures in intermodal rail terminals, advantages and disadvantages of generic conventional terminal and modern horizontal transhipment terminal with a detailed discussion on Compactterminal.

Task 2.4: Safety and security issues

Rail transport security faces new threats from international terrorism which are not well defined. A new rail freight service such as RETRACK requires an integrated approach to address current and future security threats and to assess the social as well as economic consequences of different risk management strategies. WP2.4 has used reliable, cost-effective tools in assessing, preventing and combating the novel threats of international terrorism over the wide range of physical, economic and cultural differences along the corridor. The objective is to identify terrorist threats and consequences whilst supporting the transport operators' competitiveness. This is done using threat-cost-benefit optimised solutions.

Security is dependent on efficient cooperation and coordination among Public Authorities along the RETRACK corridor. The threat posed by the criminal use of dangerous substances and the level of risk involved is also dependent on this cooperation and coordination. Customs and border protection requirements are constantly evolving. Traditional fiscal roles continue (such as the collection of excise duties), but there is now additional emphasis on the identification of threats to local and national security – a first line of defence against possible insurgent attacks.

The priorities have moved from monitoring cross-border cargo and reducing international shipments of contraband, to screening for explosives, arms, dirty bombs and weapons of mass destruction. Identifying such threats is increasingly more difficult: devices could be hidden inside a vehicle or concealed in the middle of the shipment. The challenge is rapid detection without disrupting the daily flow of goods.

A lot has already been achieved concerning the security of dangerous substances (HCDG like explosives, radioactive products, etc) both in the Member States and at EU level. It is clear however that more can be done in such areas as enhancing the exchange of information, disseminating best practices, establishing coordination mechanism and taking joint actions on particular issues.

The issues of cargo tampering, people and contraband smuggling and terrorism have been assessed in WP2.4 based on a realistic freight “Risk” assessment associated to the transport mode and local threat scenarios. Tracking of cargoes, sensors to notify the operators of intrusion and performance of cargo control and protection have been evaluated to ensure security without harming transport chain fluidity, productivity and cost-effectiveness.

Task 2.5: Operation and technical resources

Task 2.5 is focused on operational and technical equipment and in particular a detailed overview and technical description of commonly used and available locomotives and wagons and their characteristics.

An overview of the most important operational and technical requirements for rolling stock between Rotterdam and Constanza has been made. Examples of border crossing freight transports that have at least partly similar routing, origin and destinations has been analysed.

A first draft outline for an operating schedule, potential intermediate terminal stops on the routing and technical parameters of trains has been made which is based on the following previously made analyses: operational requirements, commonly used and available rolling stock and locomotives on the route from Rotterdam and Constanza and the experiences of border crossing rail freight transport concepts to and from East and South-East Europe.

Task 2.6: Human resources and operations

Task 2.6 addresses human resources issues along the RETRACK service area with regard to all train driver personnel who need to be certified for cross-border operations.

This report addresses in particular the human resources issues with regard to cross/border operations of train drivers, both at present and in the future. The Technical Specification of Interoperability relating to the subsystem “Traffic Operation and Management’ of the trans-European conventional rail system” serves as a starting point and determines the course to be followed in order to make sure that the RETRACK operation will be in compliance with European standards.

The DG TREN study: “Training and staff requirements for railway staff in cross-border operations” serves as the model for storing the gathered information on the countries in the RETRACK corridor.

The first step in the report is an update of the DG TREN study to present the situation in 2007. In addition, based on the communication of the Commission on the 3rd Railway Package and the EC perspective on train drivers' certification, including the proposed legislative measure, this report presents the expected human resources issues along the RETRACK service area and cross-border operations following present EC policy.

Task 2.7: Legislative Analysis

WP 2.7 has addressed the legislative and regulatory requirements for the RETRACK rail freight service by examining the legislative and actual status in the countries involved in terms of such issues as division of responsibilities between governmental agencies and operators, and the transparent and non-discriminatory principles and procedures necessary for competition in the market. The information is based on written documents and interviews, partly done by the research group in earlier projects, and then extensively updated and revised in the RETRACK project.

Task 2.8: Infrastructure management and use issues

WP2.8 conducted a state-of-the-art survey on infrastructure management and use issues, in particular the tension between maintenance and track use. It discusses European rail reform and implementation, liberalisation index and the case of British Rail reform. It evaluates planning processes for rail track use, different forms of collaboration among partners and railway maintenance procedures, track inspection, track maintenance, infrastructure maintenance contractors, nominal and reactive maintenance to avoid any accident and improve quality and reliability of rail services.

Task: 2.9: Mapping corridor control systems

Task 2.9 has summarised the Command Control (CC) systems to be encountered by the proposed RETRACK corridor as it crosses five different countries. The report also provides a comprehensive overview of the European Traffic Management System (ERTMS), including specific details of its planned deployment along six freight corridors as well as describing the basics behind the system itself.

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