A strong rail freight sector needs a more competitive structure. This includes both an efficient infrastructure as well as financial and political support for research and the roll out of technology.

Challenge: The competitive rail freight transportation system

The companies involved in TIS have a clear view of the requirements of the future. Rail freight transportation must become more competitive – innovative freight wagons and intelligent freight trains are the way forward. However, TIS also takes a realistic view of current conditions. The development, testing, certification, and migration of these innovations will require a high level of commitment from the entire sector – both in terms of personnel and financial resources. Moreover, many innovations, such as the digital automatic coupling or energy and data management systems, can only be introduced as part of a pan-European strategy.

Without political and financial support, it cannot and will not achieve its goal: a significant increase in rail freight’s market share. Taking these factors into account, the rail freight sector requires an intelligent mix of research and funding programmes to promote and accelerate the rate of innovation.

An integrated approach to growth in the rail sector

  • Efficient and reliable RFT infrastructure
  •  Integration of RFT into the future integrated German timetable (“Deutschland-Takt”) and coordination with international timetables
  • Elimination of administrative barriers in RFT, e.g. knowledge of the national language
  • Digitisation of railway infrastructure incl. the introduction of ETCS
  • Competitive track and facility pricing
  • Limitation of charges and taxes
  • Standardised data exchange between all participants in RFT
  • Greater emphasis on multimodality
  • Intensification of training and professional development in the RFT sector

Innovation in the RFT sector needs targeted support

Practically-oriented research and development
Here, the areas requiring special attention from the rail freight sector include vehicle technology, digitisation, and automation – with all the innovations listed in the previous chapters.

Long-term operational testing
Mobile and digital test platforms, e.g. demonstrator trains, are needed to test the functionality of innovations and their impact on economic viability, noise, and energy. Applications for the digitisation and automation of operational procedures also require test runs.

Lighthouse projects
Examples of best practice send an important message to the sector. Positive practical experiences in real transports provide persuasive arguments and can make a key contribution to the advancement of important areas of innovation, such as the digital automatic coupling.

Migration of innovations
As a rule, the migration of innovations in rail freight transport is associated with a high level of initial investment. For companies operating in the sector, these costs are often not economically feasible. Additional costs incurred by the use of innovative components require funding to cushion the financial impact – with both existing and new wagons.