Increasing intermodal and intramodal competition forces railway operators to increase their efficiency and attractiveness in a steadily ongoing process. A central role is assigned to the rolling stock, since it is a significant part of the cost structure (directly and indirectly through the personnel costs to keep it operating). Rolling stock also plays an important role in defining the attractiveness of the service offer to the customer. On account of the high investment, operation and maintenance costs, the main factor for increasing efficiency is the performance/productivity of the rolling stock. This includes the number of vendible places and the yearly mileage of the rolling stock.
The project is based on the hypothesis that a more flexible usage of the rolling stock in long distance traffic can create significant improvements in efficiency thus leading to more economic and competitive rail passenger transportation. Especially for night trains, the gain in efficiency is the enabler for a renewed demand for rolling stock. New interior design concepts are needed in order to use passenger coaches in a more flexible way and to guarantee that this flexibility does not interfere with the attractiveness of the vehicles in the diverse market segments. The main aim of the project is to develop innovative vehicle design concepts with flexible interior design for night travel which can also be converted for use during day travel with a maximum utilisation of the space (combined night & day coaches).
The project is structured along the following work packages:
- specification of requirements (demand req.: for the diverse client segments, economic and operational req. for the operator)
- conceptual design ground plan and industrial design
- economic analysis of the concepts
- practical applicability of the concepts in national and international passenger traffic (net schedule).
The development of the new design concepts will include findings for other modes with similar problems (e.g. air transport) and investigate the transferability of them to rail passenger transportation. The design concepts will be applicable for both the development of new coaches and the refurbishing of existing ones. The project will support the preservation of Austria's railway coach production as part of its industrial policy and secure its embedding into the European railway network as an ecological and competitive economic alternative to short distance flights.
Innovative interior rail passenger vehicle concepts allow a flexible share of standard and comfort class in day travel stock and support acceptability of travel in highly occupied vehicles. The second vision is a combined day & night operation of vehicles allowing sufficient seats for day travel and comfortable sleeping possibilities for night services.
Rail operators were invited to take part in both the demand analysis and the evaluation of the new design concepts. The plentitude of ideas generated in the study will help the rail operators to define new efficient interior layouts. The economic evaluation was based on operational scenarios and showed an improved productivity of 100% for the open sleeper concept and 15-40% improved productivity for the new comfort seats. The solutions found may be incorporated when designing new vehicles, but also when refurbishing old rolling stock.
A very important finding of the economic analysis is the fact that the track usage fees and the traction costs are the most important factors. For track usage schemes based on train-km, the influence of the number of rail carriages has to be observed when setting up new services. This means that the liberalisation in the rail sector should closely monitor, if the conditions allow to build up new services. When following projects the mock-ip should be implemented for a complete vehicle to test the accessibility and acceptance in practice.