Overall aim of RoCK is to improve connectivity within and between regions of knowledge, by development of railway connections into high quality efficient and user-friendly interoperable systems. Within the RoCK-project, connectivity will be improved by making use of existing connections and by developing and implementing smart solutions to improve their quality.
The RoCK partnership includes cities (representatives of knowledge regions), transport companies and development organisations. In addition to the RoCK project partners, a large number of strategically important organisations is involved in the project and has signed a letter of support (see Annexes). This includes local and regional governments, chambers of commerce, development organisations, regional cooperatives and transport bodies / transport organisations (including DB and NS). The RoCK partners want to boost mobility and knowledge-exchange between their regions by improving the quality of railway connections. They have identified several small-scale investments and actions that will have a large impact on connectivity.
RoCK will deal with technical barriers for quality improvement. and with barriers resulting from the different institutional contexts. International accessibility of the network for the end-users is addressed as well. To achieve RoCK’s aims, cooperation between stakeholders is a must. Within RoCK, stakeholders (including operators) will jointly work on concrete (cross-border) improvement-projects. Next to this, RoCK involves targeted communication actions, aimed at the creation of new alliances, building on the experiences and network of the Interreg IIIB ‘HST-community’ (SEEDA-led projects).
In the implementation of the 4 international rail connections, all RoCK partners have to solve not only technical, operational and infrastructure problems but also deal with legal and administrative issues on a regional, national and international level. A major political achievement of transnational relevance is the successfully adopted extension of the Dutch main rail network concession 'Hoofdrailnet concessie' 2015-2025. In the new concession the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) actively tasks to offer services to the first major rail hubs with frequent long distance and High Speed services across the border. RoCK managed that Düsseldorf and Aachen are part of the concession. This change in law is a major success of the RoCK partnership and means a substantial operational perspective far beyond the lifetime of the project. As intermediate result the RoCK partners of the IC connection Eindhoven-Düsseldorf managed the double-track upgrade of the bottleneck Kaldenkirchen-Dülken to be part of German Federal Transport Plan. A major step forward for the future IC connection Eindhoven-Aachen: To fill the missing rail link between the Dutch Heerlen and the German Aachen the electrification of the Dutch track section between Landgraaf and the border started. For the cross-border light rail Hasselt-Maastricht the Flemish transport operator De Lijn, the Flemish Government, the City of Maastricht and the Province of Limburg signed the transnational implementation and operational agreement. This secures realisation and maintenance and operation during the next 35 years. The tender process in Fanders and the Netherland started. The Transmanche Metro project aims to deliver an inter-regional rail service linking Kent with Nord Pas de Calais utilising the services of the existing international rail operator, Eurostar. As part of the technical study a re-signalling of Ashford was identified as essential for Transmanche Metro. The re-signalling will ensure that Ashford will remain fully inter-operable for the new international trains on order for Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn, the first of which enter service in 2016. Thanks to RoCK, this has moved from being a problem without a solution to a technically feasible proposal and with which all stakeholders have engaged.