Contract Awarded for Feasibility Study on Socio-Economic Criteria in Railway Capacity Allocation

Forum Train Europe and RailNetEurope have recently and jointly awarded a contract to RISE Research Institute of Sweden (RISE) and the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) to look into the feasibility of applying socio-economic criteria in the rail capacity management process. This study aims to investigate the viability of using socio-economic principles in designing capacity and as a last-resort criterion in the event of conflicts due to capacity shortages, a concept that has been gaining traction in several Scandinavian Infrastructure Managers (IMs) and considered by the European Commission.

Successfully applied in Scandinavia

Conflicts are inevitable in the face of limited railway capacity, requiring fair and efficient allocation principles. Several Scandinavian IMs use socio-economic criteria in the Annual Timetable process to determine the allocation of scarce capacity when negotiations between involved stakeholders fail to reach a compromise. The core idea is simple: when capacity is insufficient, trains that provide greater societal benefits are given priority in capacity allocation. However, this priority is only used to support the creation of alternatives and is used for non-allocation only if no resolution to a conflict can be found. This philosophy is mirrored in the European Commission's recent proposal for a new Capacity Regulation, which highlights socio-economic principles as a potential criterion for designing capacity and for conflicts due to capacity shortages.

The topic of socio-economic modelling is new for large parts of the sector. For answers to common questions on socio-economic modelling in the sector, please visit our dedicated website:

A Feasibility Study Expected for End of 2024

RailNetEurope (RNE) and FTE have jointly initiated a comprehensive feasibility study to investigate the practicality and feasibility of implementing socio-economic allocation principles within the European railway network. We are pleased to announce that a contract for this study has been formally signed with the esteemed research partners, RISE Research Institute of Sweden (RISE) and the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI).

The study will encompass various critical elements, probing into the implications and challenges associated with the application of socio-economic criteria in railway capacity allocation. We anticipate receiving interim findings from this study for iterative discussion with the RU-IM task force, with the final report expected in Q4 of 2024.

Study Objectives and Expected Outcomes

The study's objectives include investigating whether the positive elements of the priority rules currently in use in Sweden for annual timetable conflicts can be adapted to the TTR Capacity Model phase and whether a baseline can be established for a pan-European calculation (potentially with national parameters), addressing the treatment of cross-border traffic. It is important to note that the current study does not cover the entire scope of elements required for comprehensive capacity modelling across the entire TTR process, which will necessitate further research.

Study not to provide detailed criteria but investigate, and deliver proposals to achieve, feasibility

While the study's aim is not to provide detailed socio-economic criteria, it represents a significant step towards exploring innovative solutions for solving situations with capacity shortages on an international scale. We look forward to delivering valuable insights as this study progresses. Stay connected for further updates as we embark on this important research endeavour.