High-speed trains are one important component of the transport policy to improve the European traffic situation. HISPEEDMIX will contribute to the assessment on how and to what extent this concept is applicable to freight transport.
The main objectives of HISPEEDMIX are:
- Assessment of the market requirements for high-speed freight traffic and the capability of the existing high-speed lines to cope with such traffic.
- Studying the utilisation of the high-speed network for traditional freight traffic in mixed traffic conditions.
- Market analysis for two scenarios (high-speed freight and conventional freight) and identification of the customer needs for high-speed market segments.
- Evaluation of the impact of the freight train traffic on the RAMS performances on the European High-Speed Rail Network.
- Analysis of operational and technological constraints on the mixed traffic.
- Definition of a maintenance model and plan for both scenarios.
- Providing specifications and showing under what conditions the use of the European high-speed rail network is feasible and cost effective for high-speed and conventional freight and passenger traffic.
The project will involve the:
- assessment of customer specifications for high-speed market segment
- establishment of a time frame for point-to-point connections and hub organisation
- simulation by means of case study
- evaluation of restrictions of other traffic modes
- development of a cost-benefit analysis
To evaluate the investment return of the high-speed freight railway service, the project has developed a methodological basis of an overall HISPEEDMIX business plan and has analysed the service profitability by running a specific algorithm.
A potential traffic matrix has been estimated with 231 connections between 22 European cities. High-speed service has appeared suitable, in the beginning, for the premium freight market mainly made up of air freight, integrator traffic, postal service and express road service.
Best economic results have been reached in direct-night time connections covering distances up to approximately 1500-1800 km. The cash flow expected to be generated by the whole HISPEEDMIX service investment over 30 years has been characterised by an internal profitability rate up to 11,75%. This is considered an encouraging result which demonstrates that the HISPEEDMIX project is quite robust.
As the case study 'Paris-Brussels-Cologne connection' has shown, power supply present equipment would already allow fast goods trains to travel up to 300 km/h to fulfil their service. No extra maintenance arrangements have been requested by the implementation of the high-speed freight railway service except for those provoked by the traffic increase.
In the short-term the know-how and capital investments dominate the overall production costs of high-speed freight railway transport. In the medium to long term, high-speed freight railway service will improve qualitatively and quantitatively the whole rail transport service with a consequent favourable change in the modal split. The success of this new service will be strongly affected by organisational factors rather than technical ones. As international co-operation seems to be essential, national railway operators could form together a new HISPEEDMIX company. Before starting with a pilot service, a detailed feasibility study on specific corridors, a specific business plan and a handbook on the technical and managerial aspects of the service should be built up. After initially focusing on the premium freight market, the service could be step-by-step extended to other customers.