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
  • Capacity Planning with Capacity Supply
  • International alignment on Temporary Capacity Restrictions (TCRs)
  • Request methods:
    • Annual Request
    • Short Term Request
    • Rolling Planning Request

Capacity Strategy
The Capacity Strategy represents the basis for more precise capacity 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 provide a transparent view on the main aspects influencing the future capacity 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.

A Capacity Model is a visualisation of

  • Capacity needed for passenger traffic
  • Capacity needed for freight traffic
  • Capacity blocked by TCRs

The Capacity Model is used to transparently communicate and discuss more in detail the expected volumes (not path or TCR details) and detect pressure points. In the case of lines with international relevance, harmonisation with involved IMs is obligatory. Findings from the Capacity Strategy will be included and applicants will be asked to provide Capacity Needs Announcements. The Capacity Model is created starting three years before the timetable change under the lead of the IMs and for each international line individually to reflect the local needs and particularities. The final Capacity Model at X-18 is subject to the Capacity Partitioning, where the available capacity is partitioned according to market needs. The partitioning should at least consist of a maximum share of capacity to be used for TCRs and the minimum capacity safeguarded for Rolling Planning requests (or ad hoc where applicable). However, on lines where capacity is scarce, a more detailed partitioning, for instance to the particular market segments, might be needed.

Capacity Planning with Capacity Supply

The capacity partitioning (final version of the model) is the basis for the construction of the Capacity Supply. The Capacity Planning phase starts at X-18 and IMs start to work on the internationally harmonised Capacity Supply. It consists of a 365-day overview capacity diagram, where objects such as pre-planned paths and or wider bandwidths with the number of available slots are displayed. IMs should start harmonisation of the international Capacity Supply as early as possible and at the latest by X-13.5 actively approach neighbouring IMs with their Capacity Supply proposals to coordinate the products and their publication. For days when the traffic will be affected by TCRs, IMs should jointly prepare sufficient and harmonised Capacity Supply on diversionary lines. Alignment of the TCR windows is also part of this harmonisation.

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’.

More information can be found under

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 Methods for Short Term Requests

Potential applicants must be able to request capacity throughout the whole timetable period. This also includes the possibilities to adapt and change already allocated capacity as well as cancel it.

IMs on the other side must be in a position to optimise timetables for an efficient use of capacity and must also be able to incorporate changed and new TCRs.

To allow this dynamic planning a bundle of methods is included in the TTR process:

  • Ad hoc requests allow the placement of capacity requests at any time after the annual timetable planning is concluded. This also includes requests for spot traffic placed only hours before the train run. But it also includes capacity needs for recurrent train runs throughout the remaining timetable period.
  • Path modifications provide the possibility to the applicants to change already allocated paths.
  • Path alterations are used by IMs to change paths after the allocation. They incorporate TCRs and other factors which were not known at the time of the allocation.
  • Applicants and IMs also have the possibility to cancel paths due to various reasons (e.g. volatile market, TCRs)
  • A new process introduced in TTR is the path optimisation in which IMs can increase the efficiency of the capacity usage by adapting paths.

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.

The following table provides an overview of the TTR process from the early stage of the advance planning, starting at X-60, until train operation. X refers to the timetable change, while the digit afterwards indicates the months prior to this change.

Activity / process step Time period* Explanation
Capacity Strategy X-60 – X-36* IMs start the advance planning with the creation of Capacity Strategies. The focus of the Capacity Strategy is on the future infrastructure development and the planning principles, already here international coordination is needed, as various planning approaches exist between IMs. The Capacity Strategy is also the main connection between political and social requirements of citizens and the capacity planning process, since competent authorities have a prominent role in this phase. The validated final strategies set the rules for the Capacity Models and next planning steps.
Capacity Model X-36 – X-18 A Capacity Model is a visualisation of -Volumes of capacity for commercial traffic -Volumes of capacity to be used for TCR The final model at X-18 is subject to the Capacity Partitioning, where the available capacity is partitioned according to market needs. The partitioning should in minimum consist of a maximum share of capacity to be used for TCRs and minimum capacity safeguarded for Rolling Planning requests (or ad hoc where applicable). However, on lines where the capacity is scarce,a more detailed partitioning, for instance to the particular market segments, might be needed.
Involvement of Applicants into the planning X-24 – X-12 Over this period, applicants will be consulted on various issues, namely: -TCRs -Capacity Needs Announcements -Capacity Models -Network Statements -Capacity Supply
Capacity Planning (Capacity Supply) X-18 – X-11 Based on the partitioned Capacity Model, a feasible timetable according to axis characteristics will be elaborated and published as Capacity Supply. The Capacity Supply is a 365-day overview that shows all the elements in the capacity diagram – TCRs, TCR windows, pre-planned paths, bandwidths and empty spaces for tailor-made requests. All objects shall be harmonised between IMs.
Feasibility Studies From X-15 Applicants have the possibility to request feasibility studies at any time after X-15. They can be used for instance to investigate: - if a new/changed traffic concept, which was not part of the Capacity Model can (and in what way) be introduced, - If the traffic concept on not pre-planned network is feasible, - If the new traffic concept is feasible, taking into consideration already allocated paths (e.g., in running timetable) - The path details in case of TCRs
Publication of Capacity Supply X-11 Capacity for Annual Timetable requests can be published in the form of: - pre-planned paths - capacity bandwidths (for tailor-made requests with published conditions) - empty space for tailor-made requests Capacity for Rolling Planning requests can be published in the form of: - pre-planned paths - capacity bandwidths with number of available slots Capacity for ad hoc requests can be published in the form of: - pre-planned paths (only if safeguarded) - capacity bandwidths with number of available slots (only if safeguarded) - empty space for tailor-made requests – unplanned capacity Capacity for TCRs is also part of the Capacity Supply, all Major, High and Medium impact TCRs and the TCR windows shall be published.
Types of path request by X-8.5 (Annual TT) X-8.5 to X-2 (late path requests for Annual TT) M-4 to M-1 (Rolling Planning) After X-2 (ad hoc and short-term ad hoc) Annual Timetable requests: » New path requests: requests for traffic which are stable and requested for an entire TT year or less, by the defined deadline; » Late path requests: requests for Annual Timetable placed after the annual path request deadline; the residual capacity for Annual Timetable requests placed on time or unplanned capacity is used to accommodate them. Rolling Planning requests: Requests answered according to the principle of first come – first served, as long as the operation period starts between 1 and 4 months after the request. A Rolling Planning has multi-annual validity up to 36 months ahead of operation. Ad hoc & short-term ad hoc requests: Traffic for which the published capacity for Annual Timetable and Rolling Planning cannot be used (from X-2) or traffic requested in a very short notice (short-term ad hoc requested after M-1 for all remaining capacity).
Path allocation Annual requests X-8.5 X-6.5 X-5.5 X-5.25 Start of the path elaboration based on dedicated Annual Timetable or available capacity, this includes potential conflict resolution procedures. • Draft offer, start of consultation phase • Final offer, start of acceptance phase • Final allocation (2 months earlier than is done today)
Path allocation annual timetable requests placed after deadline X-5.25 to X-1 Path elaboration (based on residual capacity for Annual Timetable requests or unplanned capacity) starts after the allocation of capacity for Annual Timetable requests placed on time. The allocation is completed at X-1 at the latest.
Path allocation Rolling Planning Ongoing The request for Rolling Planning capacity is answered: • With a path offer for the running TT period as soon as possible and in 1 month at the latest. The first come first served principle applies; • With a capacity commitment for upcoming TT period(s), which will be converted in a path every year.
Path allocation Ad Hoc From X-1 The request for ad hoc capacity is answered as soon as possible and based on the first come - first served principle. However, the allocation shall not start before all Annual Timetable requests placed after the deadline are allocated.
Path modification and cancellation After allocation Applicants will be allowed to ask for modifications of two types: » Major modifications: considered as cancellation of allocated path/slot and new request » Minor modifications: IMs take them into account In case an applicant is not interested in a particular or all running days, the path can be cancelled or partially cancelled. One of the aims of TTR is to minimise number of modifications and cancellations.
Path alteration and withdrawal After allocation In case the initially allocated path is not usable anymore, IMs may start path alteration process. In case there are no alternatives or applicants do not find the alternatives suitable the affected running days are withdrawn. One of the aims of TTR is to minimise the number of alterations and withdrawals, especially at short notice.
Path optimisation After allocation IMs can trigger the path optimisation process to ensure the best possible matching of all path requests and/or to increase the line capacity by timetable optimisation. However, any shift of an already allocated path, which could still be used for the train run, is subject to Applicant's consent.
Train operation   Train operates according to the path allocated by the IM and as accepted by the Applicant

Extensive information on TTR is available in the Downloads area.

Process Timeline Overview

In order to be used in a consistent way, the TTR process will follow the chronological order described below:

*) X-# = number of months (#) before the timetable change (X)