The TTR Journey: Reflecting on the Evolution of the Timetable Redesign Programme

In 2014, Forum Train Europe (FTE) approached RailNetEurope (RNE) with a simple request: How can we make the timetabling deadlines more attractive for freight traffic? RNE, as an organisation committed to facilitating international traffic on the rail infrastructure network, took on the challenge and started a small project called ‘Review of the International Timetable.’

Expanding the Project Scope

As the project progressed, it became clear that the issue wasn’t just the lack of an adequate deadline for requesting timetables for freight. The problems were broader, with capacities being unavailable for the entire market – including passenger traffic – when they were needed. The lack of international alignment was also evident, and the provided paths were not meeting the expected quality due to instabilities caused by temporary capacity restrictions (TCRs).

As a result, the project’s scope was extended from timetabling to the complete capacity management. The project was renamed ‘TTR – Timetable Redesign’, and RNE and FTE jointly and carefully investigated the problems, identified fields of activities, and elaborated new methods to meet the needs of Infrastructure Managers (IMs) and Railway Undertakings (RUs). In 2017, the basic TTR concept was produced, aimed at increasing rails attractiveness in the modal split.

GA Approval and Pilots

In May 2017, the RNE General Assembly approved the implementation of TTR. The approval included the development of a new process, the deployment of Information Technology (now called ‘Digital Capacity Management’ (DCM)), the establishment of commercial conditions, and the definition of KPIs.

As a first step, TTR pilots were launched on three RFC lines plus an additional network to test some of the more innovative items during the timetable periods 2020 to 2021, particularly the Capacity Models, Supplies and Rolling Planning. Even before the pilots ended, RNE Members started national projects to implement TTR in 2019.

Refining the Concept

During this time, the TTR concept was refined, and the DCM was integrated into the rollout plans. Substantial funding from the European Commission supported the transformation of today’s capacity management processes into a smart and innovative process. Another implementation stream launched in 2020 was the introduction of Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), which are mostly IT products introduced with basic functions to limited markets.

Full Rollout and Future Developments

In 2022, the first full rollout of a TTR phase was achieved with the first-time publication of Capacity Strategies – rough and internationally aligned overviews of planned available capacity long in advance (published in June 2022 for timetable 2025). In 2023, the transition to a smarter way of planning capacity in Europe continues with more TTR phases coming to life, and the DCM being deployed gradually. A European legislative adaptation, currently in the pipeline, will further boost TTR implementation.

Shaping the Future of Railways

Considering the humble beginnings of TTR as a simple question and the significant impact it is expected to have on the sector’s way of working, we are pleased to see the progress made to date. In this programme by and for the sector, we will continue to shape the future of our business together.

Find out more about the TTR Programme here.