Process – Components
The TTR process is built around the following essential components, which are explained in further detail below:
- Capacity Strategy
- Capacity Model with capacity partitioning
- International alignment on Temporary Capacity Restrictions (TCRs)
- Two distinct request methods:
- Annual Request
- Rolling Planning Request
A common capacity strategy must be considered the basis for more precise timetable planning. It should provide insight into the IMs’ and applicants’ intentions for upcoming timetable periods, including the management of traffic streams, newly available infrastructure and TCRs with massive impact on European main lines.
The creation of the capacity strategy starts five years before the timetable change and allows all stakeholders to announce and pre-coordinate these influencing factors at an early planning stage. Items influencing the strategy should be communicated in the level of detail needed for a basic plan. Despite the comparatively low level of detail available at this early stage, it is necessary to share such information at European level to create a common strategy for handling traffic in the forecast situation.
Capacity Model with Capacity Partitioning
The key characteristic of the redesigned timetabling process lies in the consolidation of all known capacity elements (available capacity, expected traffic volume, etc.) into a single entity: the capacity model. In this model – which is a reference timetable with additional features – all data regarding a specific timetable period will be incorporated. Findings from the capacity strategy will be included and applicants will be asked to provide capacity announcements. The capacity model is created starting three years before the timetable change under the lead of the IMs for each international line individually to reflect the local needs and particularities.
The capacity model serves as the baseline for all capacity requests. To fulfil this purpose, it assigns the capacity to the various commercial and technical needs (‘capacity partitioning’), which generally are:
- Capacity needed for passenger traffic
- Capacity needed for freight traffic
- Capacity blocked by TCRs
The capacity model defines the share of capacity for early and late requests (‘pre-planned capacity’) but also leaves the possibility for capacity, which is not assigned in advance to a specific purpose (‘non-pre-planned capacity’). Some of the capacity is defined in detail to the minute, other capacity will be available in larger time windows (‘capacity bands’).
Using this method, it is possible for IMs to coordinate their efforts well in advance, share and discuss information on capacity bottlenecks with applicants long before the start of capacity requests and accelerate the creation of timetables after the request phase. This approach will help to reduce load peaks for all involved stakeholders and increase the efficiency of the entire process.
Temporary Capacity Restrictions (TCRs)
The proper coordination and communication of temporary capacity restrictions (TCRs) is a key factor in the provision of reliable capacity information. Without stable and well planned TCRs, high quality train paths cannot be created. Although works are important for keeping the infrastructure in good shape, bad coordination of works leads to a waste of capacity and delays in traffic. The commercial needs of IMs and applicants must be considered throughout the entire coordination process.
The planning of TCRs starts long in advance – in case of TCRs with major impact on traffic as early as three to five years prior to the timetable change. Using the TTR project results, the European Commission has recast its legal framework to differentiate between three impact types of TCRs:
- TCRs with major impact on traffic, which must be coordinated until 18 months prior to the timetable change
- TCRs with high and medium impact on traffic, which must be coordinated until 12 months prior to the timetable change
- TCRs with minor impact on traffic, which must be coordinated until 4 months prior to the timetable change
Being a current legal requirement, the TCR process is subject of a dedicated RNE Working Group – the ‘TCR Working Group’. In December 2018 the RNE General Assembly approved the newly drafted TCR Guidelines developed by this group. A new TCR Tool supporting the international TCR process is also under development (rollout expected in December 2019).
More information can be found under https://rne.eu/sales-timetabling/temporary-capacity-restrictions/
Request Method ‘Annual Request’
For traffic which is defined in detail long before operation starts and which requires early planning certainty for commercial and competitive reasons, it is essential to provide information on allocated capacity as early as possible. For this purpose, the ‘Annual request’ option offers the possibility of an early request and early response. This request method has been designed mostly based on the needs of passenger traffic, for which booking systems should be opened as early as possible (aim: 6 months prior to the timetable change). However, on some railway lines this method might also be applicable for freight traffic, such as the rolling highway.
Annual requests can also be placed after the deadline (X-8.5), making use of residual capacity.
Request Method ‘Rolling Planning Request’
In many cases, details for traffic are available only a few months before the first day of operation. Currently, ad-hoc requests are possible but limited to residual capacity and valid only for a short period of time. Also, the availability of residual capacity can currently not be guaranteed. As a result, end customers are faced with two sub-optimal choices: either requesting early, when they do not yet know what will be needed, or requesting too late and risking to not receive capacity at all. Due to these unattractive planning parameters, freight transport often chooses road over railway transportation. In light of this situation, the urgent need for an alternative, flexible approach has become apparent.
Therefore, the TTR team has devised a new, innovative request method: The ‘Rolling Planning request’. This new method will better meet the requirements of freight traffic in particular. Unlike the ad-hoc request, this method will draw from capacity already assigned in the capacity model and safeguarded for the specific purpose of short-notice requests. Quick response times provide the flexibility needed to react to fluctuating market needs. At the same time the possibility for multi-annual request validity provides stability for upcoming timetable periods to secure applicants’ investments or reflect the duration of an applicants’ contract with the end customer.
To allow the coordination of IMs’/ABs’ answers to applicants, and to reduce blocking of capacity and the amount of change requests, Rolling Planning requests can be placed at any time between four months and one month prior to the first day of operation. Requests must comply with the parameters assigned to the respective safeguarded capacity (e.g. minimum speed, maximum train length). IMs/ABs answer as soon as possible but at the latest within a month after the request.
Safeguarded capacity that is still available one month before its designated operation day, will be available again for ad-hoc requests to ensure efficient use of infrastructure capacity.
Compact information on the TTR process is available for download in the form of slides:
Process Timeline Overview
In order to be used in a consistent way, the TTR process will follow the chronological order, described in detail below:
|Activity / process step||Time period*||Explanation|
|Capacity strategy coordination||X-60 – X-36*||IMs’ long-term capacity planning for a specific line, part of a network or entire network. Between IMs, various planning approaches exist. Therefore, coordination is needed|
|Creation of capacity model with capacity partitioning||X-36 – X-18||A capacity model is built, based on IMs’ capacity strategy, market requirements (e.g. new concepts), major/medium TCR and maintenance requirements for a specific line, part of a network or entire network|
|Consultation phase||X-18 – X-16||Applicants will be consulted on various issues of the capacity model (intended capacity offer, Network Statements, TCRs)|
|Finalisation of capacity model||X-16 – X-12||Based on the partitioned capacity model, and capacity need announcements, a feasible timetable model according to axis characteristics will be elaborated.|
|Publication Product Portfolio||After X-12||Publication of the available paths and capacity bandwidths open for request based on the capacity model|
|Path request||Applicants may choose the request method based on the available published capacity: – Annual requests placed in time: no later than X-8.5 – Late annual and ad-hoc requests: after X-8.5 – Rolling Planning requests: Anytime between 4 and 1 month before the first day of operation|
|Path/capacity allocation Rolling Planning requests||Ongoing||Path elaboration based on dedicated capacity for 1st TT period (current or upcoming) and elaboration of a slot, which will be converted to a path year by year for the upcoming annual timetable period(s). Allocation on the basis of first-come, first-served.|
|Path allocation Annual requests||X-8.5 ð X-6.5 X-5.5 X-5.25||Path elaboration based on annual timetable dedicated capacity or available capacity and conflict resolution procedure in case of conflicting requests. · Draft offer, start observation phase · Final offer, start acceptance phase · Final allocation|
|Path allocation annual timetable requests placed after deadline||After X-5.25||Path elaboration based on residual capacity for Annual timetable requests|
|Path modification*/alter-ation**/cancellation* * = requested by applicant ** = requested by IM (e.g. in case of TCR at short-notice)||After allocation||Minor modifications: IMs take them into account Major modifications: Cancellation of allocated path/slot and new request Alteration = IMs offer an alternative, acceptance by applicant is required Partial or full cancellation of path: possible|
|Train operation||Train operates according to the path allocated by the IM and as accepted by the applicant|
*) X-# = number of months (#) before the timetable change (X)