RNE and ERA Workshop on Data Interoperability at InnoTrans

During this year’s InnoTrans fair in Berlin, RNE and ERA jointly hosted the second workshop on ‘Enhancing Data Interoperability in the Railway Sector’.

(Looking forward to even closer collaboration: Marina Aguado (ERA), Hinne Groot (Ministry of Transport, Netherlands), Christopher Carr (ERA), Michaela Strohschneider (DG MOVE), Ralf-Charley Schultze (UIRR), Harald Reisinger (RNE))

After the successful first workshop held on 26 October 2021, ERA and RNE followed up with a second workshop, which took place at the InnoTrans fair in Berlin on 21 September 2022 and was livestreamed to allow for widespread participation. Based on the discussions and participants’ feedback from the first workshop, the second one aimed at presenting a way forward. In his introductory remarks, Kristian Schmidt, Director for Land Transport of the European Commission set the scene and emphasised the importance of digitalisation and collaboration when it comes to data in the rail sector: ‘Let’s be ambitious and let’s share data’.

The following speakers presented both the needs of the customers and some initiatives to meet them:

  • Kristian Schmidt and Michaela Strohschneider from DG MOVE
  • Christopher Carr and Marina Aguado, European Union Agency for Railways (ERA)
  • Harald Reisinger, RNE
  • Ralf-Charley Schultze, International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport (UIRR)
  • Enno Wiebe, Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER)
  • Tibo Noel, International Union of Railways (UIC)
  • Cecilia Dagerholm, XRail
  • Thomas Heydenreich, RSRD2
  • Ctirad Klimánek, RailVIS
  • Aldo Puglisi, HUPAC

Looking at the way forward, Christopher Carr from the European Railway Agency and Harald Reisinger from RNE called for collaboration between ERA and RNE to provide a high level of data quality for the sector. They announced that possibilities for a cooperation between their organisations would be investigated. Moreover, RNE is in talks with UIC on joining forces to consolidate data from train operations. Michaela Strohschneider from DG MOVE welcomed these initiatives and stated that public data, such as infrastructure data, shall be accessible as easily as possible for the benefit of the sector.

There was wide agreement by the 30 participants on-site in Berlin and more than 130 participants online that data interoperability and cooperation will be crucial for a competitive railway sector.

More information on the workshop can be found here.

Language Tool Presented at InnoTrans Fair 2022

At the invitation of Europe’s Rail JU, the results of the Translate4Rail (T4R, https://translate4rail.eu/) project were presented at InnoTrans Fair for Transport Technology, which took place in Berlin on 20-23 September 2022. RailNetEurope, together with UIC (Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer), both T4R consortium members, with the support of their Members RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana) and ÖBB-TS, performed a live demonstration of the automatic translation tool prototype developed in the context of this project. The project, which had been funded by Shift2Rail, aimed at overcoming the language barriers for train drivers crossing borders and entering networks where they do not speak the language of the Infrastructure Manager.

The project’s results and tool functionalities were presented to European Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean, and Director General of the European Commission's department for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) Henrik Hololei, as well as to all visitors who joined Europe’s Rail's stand. Commissioner Adina Vălean performed a scenario where she, in the role of train driver, communicated the exceptional situation of switch damage directly from the InnoTrans fair in Berlin to the RFI national traffic control centre in Rome via the GSM-R network.

Several visitors dropping by the stand during the fair showed great interest in personally testing the T4R language tool application based on the defined scenarios. We were happy to receive very positive feedback from visitors from a variety of sectors, not only railway but also GMS-R technologies, universities, IT companies and even medicine.

Language Programme Current Developments And Outlook

The Translate4Rail project was launched in December 2019. Under the coordination of UIC and RNE, the project was recently successfully concluded with a field test at the Italian – Austrian cross-border section on the Villach – Tarvisio – Pontebba railway line, involving on one side Infrastructure Managers (RFI, ÖBB-Infrastruktur, ÖBB TS) and, on the other side, the Railway Undertakings DB Cargo Italy, Lokomotion, Rail Cargo Group and Rail Traction Company.

The positive feedback received from high-level sector representatives and InnoTrans visitors validates the activities of the sector Language Programme, which focuses on the language barrier as one of the obstacles to interoperability, and is offering options to solve this issue. It also shows that the Language Tool should be further developed.

The next steps will entail further development of the communication functionalities between IM and RU staff and further enhance IM – IM communication at regional level. Currently being discussed together with UIC: to analyse possibilities for employing the tool in the communication between locomotive staff of Railway Undertakings. In parallel, RNE continues in the development of a tool providing centralised direct translation in the GSM-R network.  

Photos kindly provided by Europe's Rail,  Photographer: Anne Preussel.

RNE Non-Personal Data Policy – Progress

Management of railway networks and train movements (co-)generate huge amounts of non-personal data every day. Yet, access to this data and its re-use within and beyond the transport sector are still hampered by factors such as an unclear legal framework, the lack of an EU single market for data and the absence of cross-sector interoperability.

In this context, RNE has launched a project which aims at clarifying in a first step the legal environment for exchange, sharing and re-use of industrial data available in RNE’s IT applications, with a view to self-determining in a second step the applicable business framework.

As part of this project, RNE has assigned KU Leuven’s team of legal researchers, namely Charlotte Ducuing, Aliki Benmayor and Orian Dheu, who are highly experienced in both data and railway/transport issues, to conduct a study analysing the relevant legal framework.

The study has shed light on several misconceptions which constitute blocking points for further sharing and re-use of business data in railways (e.g., ‘ownership’ of data, confidentiality of capacity and traffic management information, value of data). In conclusion, the study called for approval of a policy document on non-personal data on the side of RNE. The data policy should introduce a transparent, comprehensive and business-oriented process for deciding on how to handle requests for information from RNE IT systems and address confidentiality issues, taking into account all parameters and interests at stake. The study suggested that a shift from a ‘close by default’ regime applicable to information (as potentially confidential) to an evidence-based policy, where confidentiality claims shall be duly justified, could be envisaged in the data policy.

The RNE General Assembly (GA) held on 31 May 2022 has acknowledged the results of the study and an outline for the RNE non-personal data policy, which shall be further developed in the coming months. According to this outline, the RNE non-data policy is expected to consist of a main body and two annexes, namely an RNE data inventory and a service catalogue. In the main body topics such as the general economic and legal environment of data, confidentiality aspects, objectives and general principles of data sharing as well as legal and technical safeguards which can be adopted to guarantee trust in further re-use shall be addressed. The data inventory will be the first attempt in RNE’s data ecosystem for classifying its non-personal data in a single place (i.e. data assets). Similarly, the service catalogue would be a single point of reference for all RNE services related to data exchange within and data sharing outside of the railway sector with the respective price tag (where applicable).

The RNE non-personal data policy shall be finalised in accordance with the outline and submitted to the RNE GA at the meeting to be held on 6 December 2022.

Common Document and Project Plan for Commercial Conditions Approved

Harmonised Commercial Conditions will be an essential part of the Timetable Redesign for Smart Capacity Management (TTR), encouraging capacity-friendly behaviour by applying incentives for IMs and Applicants in the allocation process. For several years, RNE and FTE have been cooperating to identify a suitable set of Commercial Conditions to achieve the necessary steering effect. At the RNE General Assembly (31 May 2022) and the FTE Plenary Assembly (9 June 2022), both organisations agreed on providing a document describing their common views to the currently ongoing Impact Assessment of the European Commission.

In addition, the RNE General Assembly has approved a work package plan to provide specific proposals for Commercial Conditions by the end of 2023. In it, RU feedback is considered and a dialogue with RUs is foreseen to create not only effective but also balanced Commercial Conditions based on facts and figures. As a first step, aligned, harmonised lead times for cancellations will be created to simplify processes in Europe and allow for better handling by applicants. This first work package is anticipated to provide results already by the end of 2022.

Call For Feedback on Advanced Concept Language Tool Questionnaire

The railway sector under its Language Programme led by RNE is currently defining steps to develop a language (translation) tool to help remove language barriers.

Our aim is to develop a Language Tool prototype, (description available in the documents below), that will enable train drivers and traffic controllers to communicate in the international traffic setting and allow traffic to flow more smoothly in international operation.

The current developments in artificial intelligence and IT offer new opportunities for the whole railway sector. Therefore, we would be interested to receive feedback from potential suppliers on the prepared documents , which will help us define all necessary requirements more precisely.

We would like to draw attention to the so-called Advanced Concept of the Language Tool, which can be described as a language tool without any additional hardware on the side of a traffic controller (Infrastructure Manager), as well as a train driver (Railway Undertaking). The equipment and technologies currently used in operational communication can be considered as part of the future language tool development phase.

A document describing the Advanced Concept, as well as questionnaires to help us gain an overview of the possibilities, are available as follows:

We would like to ask IT companies and GSM-R providers for their feedback on the requirements defined for the Advanced Concept Language Tool, as well as feedback on the cost estimation to develop the tool prototype, if possible. The following timeline has been defined for the LT (Advanced Concept) development:

  • Feedback of ITCs and GSM-R providers on Questionnaires 08/2022 – 09/2022
  • Discussion on open topics 09/2022 – 10/2022
  • LP WG (RNE level) to be informed about results 10/2022

Feedback, as well as questions, are very welcome and highly appreciated. Please get in touch with us by 30th September 2022 at: juraj.maliacek@rne.eu

*The content of this document describing one of the language tool concepts and its annexes, in the form of questionnaires, does not represent the process of procurement and development of the language tool. Any feedback on the questionnaires does not create any legal and/or commercial right, entitlement or advantage for the respondent or a legal obligation for RNE in future language tool development. To participate in the future language tool development, it will be necessary to meet the conditions of the procurement procedure, which will be announced to the sector´s needs.

RNE To Coordinate Task In Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking’s ‘System Pillar’

RNE will coordinate one of the tasks in the System Pillar of Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking which will shape the architecture of the future EU railway system. 

Specifically, RNE is part of a consortium, which has won a tender by Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking, and thus will provide necessary resources and sector input to ensure the System Pillar achieves its objectives set to contribute to a major transformation of the European rail system. 

As RNE is well-recognised for its competence in the areas of traffic management and capacity management, we have been asked to act as coordinator within the consortium for Task Three of Lot Two, which is dedicated to these topics. In the upcoming years, RNE experts will, together with colleagues from the Infrastructure Managers (IMs), Railway Undertakings (Rus) and the rail industry, provide technical support and expertise to support the priorities set by Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking.  

More information can be found in the press release of Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking: Europes-Rail-Joint-Undertaking-awards-three-grants-under-its-Call-for-Tenders-2022.pdf (europa.eu) 


First Data Quality Roadshow Meeting at Železnice SR

Achieving the best possible data quality in the Train Information System (TIS) continues to be one of the major goals RNE and its Members are striving for. To promote commitment to data quality, members of the RNE Train Performance Management team, Peter Šišolák and Ivana Tomekova, met in July with Železnice SR high level representatives to present the RNE data quality strategy and exchange on how sufficient priority to data quality can be given within the company.

The TIS Declaration commitment and the two handbooks on data quality were discussed.

RNE‘s representatives highlighted the importance and benefits of the required TIS data quality.  Železnice SR’s  Deputy CEO for Operation, Milan Kubíček, stated that relevant importance must be given to data quality and believes that the discussed goals can be reached. Traffic Management Department Director, Ivan Wlachovský, confirmed that appropriate measures will be taken to introduce the necessary procedures according to the handbooks and the TIS declaration. A Data Quality High-level Representative was designated to discuss the achievements and goals on half-yearly basis.

We would like to warmly thank Železnice SR for hosting this fruitful meeting and look forward to our continued collaboration in bringing our commonly agreed data quality strategy to success.

Similar meetings can be organised for any interested RNE Member.

(To arrange a meeting, please contact Peter Šišolák at peter.sisolak@rne.eu)


Technical Document on International Leading Entities in Timetable and Capacity Redesign (TTR) Approved

At its meeting on 31 May 2022, RNE’s General Assembly, approved the ‘International Leading Entities in TTR / Capacity Management – Input for Impact Assessment’, a technical document drafted by a special task force of experts.

This exercise was triggered by the European political initiatives concerning both the ‘Revision of Rail Freight Corridor Regulation’ and the ‘Action plan to boost long distance and cross-border passenger rail’, to which RNE’s Members decided to proactively contribute by delivering professional expertise.

The result of the task force’s work is a comprehensive document, which provides the Consultants to the EU Commission for the mentioned impact assessment with a substantiated analysis of the potential impacts, from an operational point of view, of setting up an EU level entity supervising capacity and traffic management.

The analysis takes into consideration existing and anticipated entities for each activity and provides a comprehensive technical analysis of possible decision makers in the TTR process.

With this initiative, RNE and its Members contribute with their profound know-how to designing the ambitious future of railways in Europe.

More information on the Timetable Redesign for Smart Capacity Management (TTR) Programme is available on the TTR Website.


147 Million Euros for TTR Implementation

Significant funding from the CEF II Transport Call 2021 has been awarded to the TTR Project (Digital Capacity Management): a total of over 147 million Euros of investments is supported by the European Commission. This will boost the implementation of the first elements of the Digital Capacity Management as an essential part of TTR.  

 To secure this highly needed funding, RNE coordinated a joint proposal with several of its Members for the CEF II Transport Call 2021, which was submitted in January 2022 and has been positively evaluated. The proposal focusses mainly on developments necessary for the digitalisation of the new capacity management processes in TTR on the side of the Infrastructure Managers. Among them the following features can be highlighted: 

  • the implementation of an additional market-oriented application for Short-Term Path Requests at international level, reducing the lead-time from 2-3 weeks to 1-2 days 
  • the adjustment of IMs’ legacy systems to allow for cross-border data exchange and to facilitate integrated infrastructure capacity and traffic management
  • the rollout of the TCR Tool to coordinate Temporary Capacity Restrictions (TCR)
  • the TTR concept of advance planning, including Capacity Strategy, Capacity Model and Capacity Supply – coordinated across borders 

The following RNE Members directly benefit from having participated in this joint proposal: SNCF Réseau, Infrabel, DB Netz, Správa železnic, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, and the RFC ‘North Sea – Mediterranean’, while SBB Infrastruktur has joined as associate partner. The developments are planned over the whole course of the Action from 1 January 2022 until 31 December 2024 and are supported with a funding rate of 50% of total investments. 

RNE is delighted about the possibilities to implement Digital Capacity Management at European level, as this is a giant leap towards the implementation of TTR. On behalf of its Members, RNE would like to thank the European Commission for this decisive support. 

For the next two rounds of CEF II funding, RNE intends to submit a joint proposal with its Members again and invites all interested Members to participate. 

For further information please contact
RNE CIO Harald Reisinger (harald.reisinger@rne.eu).

RNE Technical Meeting 2022 Recap

The RNE Technical Meeting took place in Budapest from 13 – 16 June 2022.

If there is one thing the Corona pandemic has taught us, it is that we need face to face meetings as they are essential for generating more ideas, building long-term business relationships and creating even deeper and stronger trust. After two years of working merely online, this past June our Members, including the Rail Infrastructure Managers, Corridor OSSs and Capacity Allocation Bodies had the opportunity to meet, to discuss and harmonise draft timetables in detail in the framework of the RNE Technical Meeting in Budapest.

It was our pleasure to have welcomed our Members as guests in Budapest. Once again, a big thank to all taking actively part. We are looking forward to the upcoming Technical Meeting in 2023.