Rail sector agrees on a common vision on Digital Capacity Management
Europe’s major Infrastructure Managers and Railway Undertakings endorsed a Joint Vision for the Sector on Digital Capacity Management. RailNetEurope, Forum Train Europe, the Rail Freight Forward initiative, the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies, European Rail Infrastructure Managers and the European Rail Freight Association have published the cornerstones of the future of Digital Capacity Management (DCM). DCM will contribute to freeing up capacity on congested lines and boosting modal shift to rail for both passenger and freight traffic. A strong call for investments in Digital Capacity Management stresses its role as a major game changer in order to reach the Green Deal targets for the transport sector. DCM is the integral IT-part of the European programme “TimeTable Redesign (TTR) for Smart Capacity Management”.
The European Commission has put forward the Green Deal with the objective to transform Europe into the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050 and enhance Europe’s CO₂-reduction targets from 40% to 50% by 2030. Key to achieving this goal is to transport at least 30% of all goods in Europe by train. Hence, more trains need to run on the European rail network in the future. This calls for investment to increase the infrastructure capacity, particularly in parts of the network which are already saturated today. To mitigate this situation, two means are needed: building additional infrastructure as well as using the existing infrastructure more efficiently. This can be achieved through digitalising, automising and therefore optimising capacity management. The European programme “TTR for Smart Capacity Management” holds exactly this solution in hand: a digitised view on the full European network so Infrastructure Managers can reduce bottlenecks through smart data management, put more trains on the existing infrastructure, make them run fluidly, better plan their maintenance works, and harmonise interoperable freight and passenger trains.
But there is more to Digital Capacity Management than additional capacity. Railway Undertakings require easy access to long- and short-term high-quality train paths in order to design and market attractive products to their customers. In order to compete with road, a train needs to be run across Europe as easily as a truck. DCM will connect the systems of IMs and RUs to facilitate the complete capacity management process – from advance planning to the actual train run. This benefits customers who receive better rail products, with more capacity for flexible connections throughout Europe, and with higher reliability and ease of use.
At the stop of the Connecting Europe Express in Antwerp, Geert Pauwels, CEO of Lineas, made a case for DCM: “Digital Capacity Management is a game-changer. It will help infrastructure managers to make driving a train through Europe as easy as driving a truck.” DCM is one of the five enabling technologies identified by the Rail Freight Forward (RFF) initiative to make rail leap forward into the 21st century and become the backbone of Europe’s mobility.