Small-scale low-cost improvements for rail freight

Small-scale low-cost investments have an often underestimated and therefore so far not fully exploited potential to make an important contribution to the development of the rail freight system, to the TEN-T network and to the functioning of TEN-T and EU Rail Freight Corridors.

Large-scale and small-scale projects and improvements must be seen as highly complementary. This clearly calls for a more integrated planning and development approach, with better alignment of the timing of large-scale projects and small-scale improvements. Ideally, small-scale improvements should already be implemented before large-scale projects are finalised, to reap the benefits of the latter from the very first day of operation.

Taking the example of the Brno-Budapest section of the Orient/East-Med corridor, the best-practice guideline identifies exemplary measures for improvements:

  1. Construction of triangle tracks to avoid the change of travelling direction,
  2. upgrade of terminals through the extension of handling tracks, connections at both ends of the terminal, electrification of head-ends of handling tracks and measures for digitalisation and automation,
  3. extension of sidings to at least 740 m and electrification of railway lines,
  4. construction of freight bypasses,
  5. identification of time windows and pre-defined train paths for 740 m freight trains,
  6. investigation of possibilities for directional running of trains through coordinated development of parallel single-track routes.

Finally, the guideline presents suggestions how to improve the conditions for small-scale low-cost improvements in the context of planning processes, planning law and policy making, with particular focus on strengthening of the European corridor approach. With this regard, the guideline can also serve as an input to the process of definition of the future role of TEN-T corridors.

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