RNE Anniversary Interview with Paul Mazataud

As we mark two decades of excellence and innovation, we embark on a journey of reflection and insight. We are delighted to commence our anniversary celebrations with a series of exclusive interviews featuring our Management Board members. Our inaugural interview will showcase the RNE President, Paul Mazataud.
Throughout 2024, we invite you to join us on a captivating exploration of insights, experiences, and vision, as we delve into the collective wisdom that has led RNE to where it is now.

RNE: Paul, you became a member of the RNE Managing Board in May 2017 (in charge of Traffic Management), and you have been RNE’s president since May 2021. What is your impression of RNE’s development and trajectory over the past 20 years?

Paul Mazataud: The journey began with a dedicated few, whose motivation and commitment laid the foundation for RNE’s growth. Initially reliant on the remarkable and often voluntary/ supplementary work of Member employees, RNE gradually transitioned to a dedicated workforce, including senior management. This shift significantly accelerated process and IT system development, culminating in a current staff of over 60.

Our core focus remains unwavering, emphasising expertise in intangible domains such as capacity, traffic, and performance management, alongside legal and IT support. While these pillars have remained constant, our evolution has been marked by a significant sophistication in our offerings, reflecting our adaptability to changing demands.

The introduction of TTR (Timetable Redesign) in 2014, driven by customer demand, served as a pivotal moment, catalysing transformative progress in European capacity management. Despite the inherent risk, the timing was opportune, with the entire sector primed for substantial change.

RNE: You have been active in various functions in the railway sector over the years; has your view of RNE evolved over time?

Paul Mazataud: Yes, as RNE’s visibility has markedly improved, with widespread recognition among major Infrastructure Managers (IMs) including at high-level. The General Assembly has emerged as a pivotal event for IMs, underscoring the growing importance of RNE’s role.

Furthermore, the quality of RNE’s governance ensures an efficient and transparent decision-making process, facilitated by a fast and transparent electronic voting tool implemented in 2020.

The Covid crisis unexpectedly facilitated positive changes, notably the increased participation in remote technical meetings. This has broadened engagement and collaboration opportunities.

Moreover, RNE’s renewed focus on domestic and passenger traffic is noteworthy. TTR’s emphasis extends beyond international and freight capacity, focusing on comprehensive capacity redesign. Our involvement in the European Commission’s ten passenger pilots underscores our commitment to advancing passenger rail services.

RNE: What do you see as the highlights / main achievements of the association?

Paul Mazataud: TTR represents a significant breakthrough, fostering enhanced capacity, customer-centricity, anticipation, and inter-IMs coordination. The increasing adoption of TTR is evidenced by numerous IMs publishing strategy and capability models, alongside substantial IT investments coordinated by RNE. Notably, the European Commission provides vital financial support for this endeavor.

In parallel, ETMN is gaining prominence in traffic management, matching the impact of TTR. The success of TIS among operators is impressive, with over [3,000] unique monthly visitors, marking a 20% annual growth rate.

RNE: Are there any anecdotes from your years with RNE you would like to share with us?

Paul Mazataud: Although my father was a geographer, I confess that it wasn’t until I became involved with RNE that I realised that Vienna was so close to major European cities: 65 km from Bratislava, 240 km from Budapest, 290 km from Prague, just to name a few examples. RNE’s headquarters, underscores our role as a hub for European collaboration—a sentiment I deeply appreciate during my visits.

RNE: Like every RNE Board Member you know the conflicts that can arise between international and national interests. What have been your experiences and take-aways from navigating this area of tension?

Paul Mazataud: Balancing international interoperability with national interests requires understanding and respecting both perspectives. It’s about recognising the added value of European harmonisation while acknowledging the need for local innovation and expertise—a delicate balance requiring open-mindedness/ openness to the international, and adaptability – qualities I associate with future generations. That’s why I’m optimistic about future developments.

RNE: If you could make a wish for RNE’s future – what would it be?

Paul Mazataud: My earnest wish is to witness a substantial increase in rail’s modal share for both passengers and freight. I envision RNE playing a pivotal role as the ’Network Coordinator,’ as outlined in the draft European Regulation on the use of railway infrastructure capacity within the Single European railway area. Our focus is on preparing RNE to embrace this responsibility fully, leveraging our resources at hand to drive further progress.