August 23, 2022

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.