Some time ago, RailNetEurope and Forum Train Europe joined forces to start an ambitious project – the Redesign of the International Timetabling Process (TTR). But what is TTR?
Simply put, TTR is the project to simplify, unify, and solidify improvements to the European rail timetabling system to significantly increase the competitiveness of railways. A systematic redesign of timetabling processes is needed as they differ considerably across European countries, which makes international cooperation difficult. Cross-border traffic is as important as ever for the rail sector, but the current system is leading to unnecessary delays due to poorly coordinated construction works and timetable clashes. In addition, the capacity products currently provided by the infrastructure managers do not serve all market needs.
To remedy this unsatisfactory situation, both RailNetEurope (RNE) and Forum Train Europe (FTE) agreed that changes to these procedures are needed and launched the TTR project. They are being supported by the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA).
Concept Based on Market Needs
The TTR project has a clear focus on providing substantial value to all involved parties, and the TTR project team was therefore set up by inviting railway undertakings (RUs), infrastructure managers and allocation bodies (IMs/ABs) and supporting companies to nominate market specialists as well as experts from the fields of timetabling, construction works, IT and legal matters. The newly set up team then started conceptualising the redesign of the timetabling process by asking the market to spell out its needs.
The market needs were found to be:
- Flexibility, especially in the freight sector
- Possibility for earlier commercial use of paths, e.g. earlier ticket sales
- Reduction in load peaks and redundant work
- Higher stability and quality of timetables
Based on this feedback, IMs/ABs and RUs then started to define possible approaches for a new process. After several years of planning, the innovative and market-oriented redesigned timetabling process finally took shape.
Implementation of the TTR process started after its approval by RNE and FTE in 2017, with a clear vision:
- Clear focus on freight and passenger market needs with optimised request deadlines
- Improved reliability, consistency and stability planning and execution of temporary capacity restrictions (TCRs)
- Binding implementation and application of the redesigned timetabling process (TTR)
- Increased efficiency (capacities, resources, IT) in order to avoid duplication of work and planning efforts
- Optimised use of existing infrastructure capacity
TTR Benefits Demonstrated
A business case based on the TTR project results demonstrated that a most positive effect on the European railway sector is to be expected, namely:
- Optimised usage of available infrastructure (increased capacity/quality) and consequently a higher market share of railway transport in the modal split
- Increased efficiency of IMs/ABs and applicants when planning and allocating capacity while minimising the occurrence of redundant work steps
These improvements will translate into considerable financial benefits for the sector.
TTR Further Steps
To further develop and improve the TTR process, innovative elements are being tested through several initiatives:
- Pilot lines on Rail Freight Corridors have been established (Mannheim-Miranda de Ebro, Antwerp-Rotterdam, Munich-Verona),
- a network pilot on ÖBB INFRA’s core network is scheduled for timetable 2021,
- and some IMs/ABs have also started testing individual components of TTR.
In parallel, a project with the goal of full TTR rollout has been launched. Considering all expected benefits and seeing some achievements already in the pilots, the TTR team aims for a full rollout of the TTR process by the end of 2024.
Organisation and Contacts
TTR is organised as a programme, steered by RNE and FTE, and supported by the ERFA. The programme is governed by the TTR Steering Committee and managed by the Programme Management Office.
To effectively work on the various subjects, several TTR projects, sub-projects and task forces have been established. Within these frameworks, experts discuss challenges and propose approaches to solutions:
- TTR Commercial Conditions project
Responsible for defining the commercial conditions needed to effectively steer the TTR process
- TTR IT Landscape project
Responsible for defining and implementing all IT systems required by TTR
- TTR Pilots project
In this project, the testing of TTR components on pilot lines and networks is being coordinated. Conclusions from these tests will serve as the baseline for further development and improvement of TTR components. Three pilot lines have been launched to test TTR on international lines:
- Mannheim-Miranda de Ebro
In addition, a network pilot project on ÖBB INFRA has been launched. The TTR pilots are supported by the task force ‘Pilot IT’, which is an integral part of the TTR IT Landscape project.
- TTR Implementation project
To fully implement TTR at European and national level, a new implementation project has been launched, in which all other projects (e.g. national TTR projects) are coordinated.
- Task Force ‘TTR Legal Framework’
To establish TTR, the right legal framework must be in place. The task force ‘TTR Legal Framework’ analyses all TTR components from a legal perspective, detects pressure points in the legal framework and provides options for the implementation of TTR.
Compact information on TTR is also available for download in the form of slides:
- Slides TTR - General19.02.2020