The Timetabling and capacity redesign project (TTR): overview and progress
Project background and legal aspects
Timetabling and capacity redesign (TTR) is a project to review the current passenger and freight timetabling process defined in synergy between RailNetEurope (Infrastructure Managers) and Forum Train Europe (Railway Undertakings), in collaboration with the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA). The project aims at improving the degree of standardisation and efficiency of the rail system. Indeed, incomplete harmonisation of timetabling procedures between European countries makes it difficult to cooperate at international level. To remedy this unsatisfactory situation, TTR aims to establish a new capacity allocation and timetabling process that is harmonised across Europe and supported by new standardised IT. Through these innovations, the railways’ competitiveness with other modes of transport is set to be increased.
Various project groups exist within TTR, one of which is the Legal Task Force which works on the legal challenges presented by the project. Its work has focused on a number of thorny issues, such as:
- Capacity partitioning in the capacity model and safeguarding of capacity
- The new request type, Rolling Planning, including the multi-annual aspect of Rolling Planning
- The timeframe for answering requests.
The Legal Task Force thus considers these pieces of legislation as relevant for the TTR project:
- Directive 2012/34/EU, in particular Article 26 (principle of optimum effective use of capacity), Section 3 of Chapter IV (capacity allocation rules), and Annex VII (schedule for capacity allocation).
- Implementing Regulation 2016/545/EU on framework agreements.
- Regulation (EU) 913/2010, in particular the provisions on reserve capacity and framework for capacity allocation (FCA).
- National law and frameworks for capacity allocation.
Current procedure: progress of the project during 2022
In spring 2022, FTE members conducted the first RU-only phase of the TTR CNA Pilot, the aim of which was to test the creation and harmonisation of the CNAs (Capacity Needs Announcements) for timetable 2025. The interested RUs had the opportunity to prepare jointly for the future of capacity management. The learnings from the pilot phase were gathered and presented to joint IM-RU bodies. They will be used for further process fine-tuning, and have already been included in the ECMT (RNE´s software for CNAs) development roadmap. The second phase of the TTR CNA Pilot, including both RUs and IMs, started on 12 September 2022 with a joint kick-off meeting. In this phase, RUs are given the opportunity to submit CNAs for timetable 2025 to IMs on the selected lines. The IMs will process them, include their input in the Capacity Models, and consult on those CNAs they cannot satisfy in full. The deadline for the submission of CNAs for timetable 2025 is 12 December 2022.
It should be recalled that in May 2022 it was decided that the “International Leading Entities in TTR / Capacity Management – Input for Impact Assessment”, a technical document, was approved by RNE’s General Assembly. The output of the task force’s work is a document which provides the consultants to the European Commission with an analysis of the potential impacts of setting up an EU-level entity supervising capacity and traffic management. The analysis takes into consideration existing entities for each activity, and provides a comprehensive technical analysis of possible decision-makers in the framework of the TTR process.
Other current topics addressed by the TTR project include the improvement of TCR planning (Temporary Capacity Restrictions) and common usage of existing tools, with a capacity strategy handbook and coordination and consultation of stakeholders. Indeed, the instability of TCRs, late TCR planning and limited cross-border synchronisation of TCRs remain some of the most critical issues in capacity management for RUs. Based on Annex VII to Directive 2012/34/EU, applicants must be consulted on Temporary Capacity Restriction (TCR) planning. A standardised process for the collection of applicants’ feedback is needed for inclusion in the capacity strategy handbook; one of the focus points in 2022 has thus been to pursue this TCR consultation using the TTR Capacity Model variants.
Discussions about the capacity model also addressed inputs to the development of ECMT (European Capacity Management Tool), which need to provide clear process input to the IT development, traceability of submitted Capacity Needs Announcements and capacity model volumes in an international context. All these topics were discussed by stakeholders at the TTR Process Group meeting in Budapest on 20 and 21 September 2022.
To have a complete idea of the TTR project, it is useful to indicate also that a task force has been set up to define a future harmonised European framework for allocation principles. This group meets to define and align FTE RU expectations, which are then negotiated in the joint meetings with IMs.
The TTR Legal Task Force (including experts from IMs and RUs, RNE, CER and CIT) has compiled an overview of options on how to legally support TTR and its pilot runs. This expert group continues to accompany TTR as it grows in maturity, and provides legal analysis for new and improved process items. In any case, the sector hopes that 2023 will see the TTR project make further speedy progress.