Redesign of the international Timetabling Process (TTR)
Incomplete harmonisation of timetabling procedures between European countries makes it difficult to cooperate at international level. To remedy this unsatisfactory situation, both RailNetEurope – RNE and Forum Train Europe – FTE agreed that changes to these procedures are needed. These two organisations are united in their goal to improve the timetable planning process. Thus, FTE and RNE launched the TTR project. They are being supported by the European Rail Freight Association – ERFA.
The TTR project team – consisting of experts in in the fields of market, timetabling, construction works, IT and legal matters, recruited from all parties concerned (RUs, IMs, supporting companies)- faced the challenge by asking the market to spell out its needs, which are:
- Flexibility, especially in the freight sector
- Possibility for earlier commercial use of paths, e.g. earlier ticket sales
- Reduction of peak loads and redundant work
- Higher stability and quality of timetables
Based on this input, IMs and RUs started to define the possible approaches for a new process. After several years of planning in the TTR project, the redesigned timetabling process finally took shape as an innovative and market-oriented process.
A business case that was based on the TTR project results, demonstrated a most positive effect on the European railway sector, especially in terms of financial benefits due to a higher market share on the European transport market and reduced costs due to increased efficiency in timetabling.
Implementation of the new process
As agreed by the RNE General Assembly (May 2017) and FTE Plenary Assembly (June 2017), TTR will be implemented gradually. For that purpose, several projects have been started:
In these projects, stakeholders from all over the European railway sector are involved. Besides RNE (IMs) and FTE (RUs), these are:
- IRG Rail
In addition to stakeholders directly involved in the TTR projects, others are permanently updated and consulted in the implementation process. Some of these are:
- DG MOVE
- Executive Boards of the Rail Freight Corridors
The TTR results – especially the innovative components– will be subject of pilot runs. The goals of the pilots are:
- Proof of the business reference model’s accuracy
- Definition and specification of data reference model for capacity
- Input for process steering methods (e.g. allocation rules, commercial conditions)
- Input for performance reference model
- Comparing capacity model with actual requests
- Number of modifications/alterations
- Percentage of safeguarded capacity vs. residual capacity usage
The pilot will be conducted in three phases: In a first step, a capacity model will be created according to TTR process. Based on that, capacity will be available for requests in the second phase (rolling planning requests can be placed at a later point than the annual requests). The third phase will encompass the running timetable, in which further requests can be placed. Phase one has already started in December 2017, phase 2 is anticipated to start in December 2018 and phase 3 will be conducted during the running timetable 2020 (December 2019 – December 2020).
On the pilot lines, all stakeholders are asked to join the respective project teams. If you are a stakeholder on one of the lines, and are not yet part of the project team, please contact:
- Mannheim – Miranda de Ebro: Mr. Michel Dupuis (Email)
- Antwerp – Rotterdam: Mr Floris Visser (Email) and Mr Freddy Van Der Cruyssen (Email)
- Munich – Verona: Mr Andri Kopperschmidt (Email)
An overall action plan is currently in development. It will include all TTR process components, the current and target state as well as the steps required to implement them, considering required IT systems and an analysis of the legal framework. The action plan will be influenced and revised based on findings from the TTR pilots. The presentation of this action plan is scheduled for the RNE General Assembly in May 2018 and FTE Plenary Assembly in June 2018.
Introducing the redesigned timetabling process
The redesigned timetabling process consists of several components which can also be downloaded here:
- Temporary Capacity Restrictions (TCRs)
- Timetabling strategy and advanced planning
- Capacity model with capacity partitioning
- Request method “Annual request”
- Request method “Rolling Planning request”
- General process components
- Leading entities
- Priority rules
- Commercial conditions
Temporary Capacity Restrictions (TCRs)
The proper coordination and communication of Temporary Capacity Restrictions (TCRs) is a key factor for the provision of reliable capacity information, based on which high quality paths can be created. Although works are important for keeping the infrastructure in good shape, bad coordination leads to a waste of capacity. The commercial needs of IMs and Applicants have to be considered. The planning of TCRs starts as early as 5 years prior to the timetable change, with iterations leading to the maturity needed for the capacity model at X-12, and defining major, medium and minor impact TCRs. Even after X-12, the planning of minor impact TCRs continues and unforeseen TCRs need to be included.
TTR Strategy for the timetabling process
A more precise planning of timetables must include the creation of a capacity strategy. Such a strategy should provide insight into the IMs’ and Applicants’ intentions for the upcoming timetable periods, including the management of traffic streams. It is also necessary to analyse traffic flows, taking into account the available infrastructure. Therefore, the careful planning of TCRs shall result in a well-balanced strategy in which IMs’, Applicants’ but also the national economic interests are harmonised at international level.
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, all data regarding a specific timetable period will be available by X-12 and based on this data, the creation of the actual timetables should start. Being the core element of the pre-planning phase, the model’s main function is to display available capacity and partition the expected traffic according to its attributes. It also safeguards capacity for Rolling Planning requests and provides basic information to all timetabling process stakeholders.
Request method ‘Annual request’
For traffic which is defined in detail long before operation starts and which requires early contracting for commercial and competitive reasons, it is essential to provide feedback as early as possible. For this purpose, the annual timetable requests offer the possibility of early requests and early response. Due to the possibility that it might not be feasible to meet an early deadline, but traffic itself follows similar patterns, such requests can also be placed at a later time, making use of residual capacity.
Request method ‘Rolling Planning request’
In order to meet market requirements, the TTR project has identified the urgent need for a requesting method for traffic with details to become known at a later date. The Rolling Planning was created to be able to request paths at any time and to still provide high quality paths. The Rolling Planning is based on safeguarded capacity, which is dedicated to later requests and which is assigned to this purpose in the capacity model. Quick response times and multi-annual request validity should provide the flexibility necessary in order to react to the volatile market while at the same time still providing stability for upcoming timetable periods.
General process components
Some of the components to be implemented need to be considered throughout the entire process.
Leading entities: For each process step it is important to have clearly assigned responsibilities. A leading entity is required to steer the process and to ensure that agreements are being made and deadlines are being met.
Allocation Rules: Allocation Rules determine the highest priority in case of conflicting bids. Such rules are necessary to provide the IMs with the means to determine which aspect of a potential conflict to focus on and to provide the best possible solution.
Commercial conditions: In order to steer the process, to prevent misuse from any side, and to encourage the use of the correct tools provided in the process, commercial conditions will apply. It is essential to note that TTR does not harmonise the monetary value of commercial conditions but provides a framework which can be applied without exception throughout Europe in order to eliminate the confusing variety of ways commercial conditions have been established.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): TTR will provide a timetabling process that is as close to reality as possible. However, this also requires monitoring and improvements. To measure the effectiveness of the process, KPIs will be applied.
Process Timeline overview
In order to be used in a consistent way, the TTR process will follow the following timeline:
Additional TTR results
Basic IT analysis
In order to implement the process, IT systems are required that take into account the following aspects:
- Possibility for harmonising TCRs and timetables internationally has to be provided.
- Consultation of Applicants and relevant stakeholders in all process steps is required.
- Centralised capacity data is necessary for short response times.
- Interconnection between capacity components (e.g. capacity model, requests)
- Interfaces between systems (national and international) have to be established to provide for proper communication.
- Use of the TAF-TSI framework for data exchange and data modelling.
Contact Point and Information Events
Of course, the TTR project team provides all required information to the stakeholders concerned. Therefore, we will present this subject at various European meetings connected to timetabling. You may contact the TTR project team regarding the next possibility to get this information first hand.
More information about TTR and its impact on other railway stakeholders can be requested from the TTR Team.
Sales & Timetabling Manager / Leader TTR Programme
Senior Project Manager FTE / Deputy Leader TTR Programme