The European railway industry is in the midst of a process of restructuring and commercialisation. The process is based on the principle of separation between the management of the infrastructure and the provision of transport services. This has been driven by the EU Directives 91/440 and 95/19, which have set down the principles for the liberalisation of the market for providing rail services and for implementing the access-to-infrastructure procedure. The European Parliament and the Council agreed on a set of rail infrastructure Directives in February 2001.
The general aim of EUROPE-TRIP was to develop a framework able to assist the infrastructure manager in putting the new policy principles into practice, and in particular the principle of open access, by providing models, which support short to medium- and long-term planning. Specific aims of the project were to:
- define a business planning model focused on the management of infrastructure;
- analyse the mechanisms between the infrastructure manager (IM) and the train operators concerning the access to infrastructure;
- evaluate the methods for assessing the capacity of rail lines;
- analyse the costs of using the infrastructure.
A business planning model, able to simulate the strategies of the IM and options for access-to-infrastructure policies, has been developed and a demonstrator set up. The model, based on the 'system dynamics' micro-simulation method, focuses on the role of the IM and his relations with train operators and the regulatory authorities, and represents financial ratios and other business trends with a long-term perspective. The model can be used as platform to conduct strategic studies on European rail transport and corridors, e.g. freight freeways.
Two approaches have been developed and tested for the analysis of the behavioural structure of the access-to-infrastructure:
- an analytic model based on game theory, which represents the competition among train operators and their interaction with the IM, and
- an auction model based on experimental economics, where an auction procedure is applied to provide information about operators' access values.
A multi-layer approach has been developed and tested as a unified methodology to estimate line capacity from aggregate to detailed analysis, including analytic methods, scheduling models and simulation. The potential of state-of-the-art scheduling models has been highlighted.
A framework of definitions for cost analysis has been tested in a real case study of a European corridor. The need for regarding infrastructure costs on a life-cycle basis and the requirement for setting up a common European reference framework and implementing benchmarking analysis have been stressed. The costs of using intermodal inland terminals have been outlined and a 'data envelopment analysis' technique has been demonstrated for studying the comparative efficiency of infrastructure managing units.
The EUROPE-TRIP results are a significant contribution to the development of innovative management techniques, required by the proposed Directive for the railway sector, put forward by the Commission in August 1998 (COM480). This concerns the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and levying of charges for the infrastructure use. Some of the EUROPE-TRIP models and approaches are truly innovative, having been developed for the first time in the project.
The implementation of the principles set out in the proposed Directive can be supported by the project results, in particular those on the:
- inter-relation between residual capacity and short-notice capacity management,
- relationships between capacity allocation and charging method,
- operational definitions of 'co-ordinated' and 'constrained' infrastructure.
The possibility of exploiting the results of the project depends on the co-ordination of the infrastructure managers and their willingness to participate in common ventures. The infrastructure managers should also be ready to identify themselves as one European network system.