European vision of Rail Freight Corridors
The Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 of the European Parliament and the Council concerning a European Rail Network for Competitive Freight entered into force on 9 November 2010. The Regulation requests Member States to establish international marker-oriented Rail Freight Corridors (RFC) to meet three cahallenges:
- strengthening co-operation between Infrastructure Managers on key aspects such as allocation of path, deployment of interoperable systems and infrastructure development;
- striking the right balance between freight and passenger traffic along the RFCs, giving adequate capacity and priority for freight in line with market needs and ensuring that common punctuality targets for freight trains are met;
- promoting intermodality between rail and other transport modes by integrating terminals into the corridor management and development.
The Regulation defined the establishment of 9 initial Rail Freight Corridors (RFCs) , six of which became operational on 10th November 2013, and three the other became operational on the 10th November 2015.
In 2017 and 2018 European Commission defined by its Implementing Decision (EU) 2017/177 and (EU) 2018/500 the establishment of two new Rail Freight Corridors, one of those is also Alpine-Western Balkan Rail Freight Corridor. The following RFCs are operational:
- Rhine-Alpine RFC
- North Sea-Mediterranean RFC
- ScanMed RFC
- Atlantic RFC
- Baltic-Adriatic RFC
- Mediterranean RFC
- Orient/East-Med RFC
- North Sea-Baltic RFC
- Czech-Slovak/Rhine-Danube RFC
- Amber RFC
- Alpine – Western Balkan RFC
Mission and vision of RFCs
- Creation of an international rail market that is an essential factor in making progress towards sustainable mobility
- Shift to Rail: creating competition with other modes of transport, especially regarding providing efficient international and national rail freight services
- Creating better interconnections with the rail infrastructure of European third countries
- Providing continuity along the corridors by enabling interconnections between existing railway structure
- Integration and harmonization of the rail freight corridors into the existing trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and /or the European Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and harmonization of processes
- Connecting the land bridge from China / Kazakhstan / Azerbaijan / Turkey / with Western Europe through the Western Balkans and Austria.
- Ensuring non-discriminatory access to intermodal rail services
- Creating a corridor investment plan in accordance with a corridor-wide elaborated Transport market study (TMS) focusing on near future market developments
- Meeting the needs and expectations of all the users of the freight corridor
- Establishment of Corridor One stop shop (C-OSS) as a single joint body for applicants to request and receive answers in a single place and a single operation
- Addressing infrastructural and operational bottlenecks
- Reduction of dwell times at borders
The goals are set up in Commission’s White Paper and they are that “30 % of road freight over 300km should shift to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030, and more than 50% by 2050, facilitated by efficient and green freight corridors. To meet this goal will also require appropriate infrastructure to be developed”.
Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for Transport is the funding instrument to realise European transport infrastructure policy. The CEF programme contributes to the implementation of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) by financing key projects to upgrade infrastructure and remove existing bottlenecks whilst also promoting sustainable and innovative mobility solutions.
All Rail Freight corridors are organized in the RFC Network to enhance coordination between the corridors. The RFC Network is supported by an RFC network assistant organizationally included in RNE.
RailNetEurope was set up in 2004 to help meet the challenges faced by the international rail sector. This was to be achieved by providing solutions that benefit all RNE Members as well as their customers and business partners. RNE facilitates the operational international business of its Members. RNE’s role is also to provide support as regards compliance with the European legal framework. This entails developing harmonised international business processes, templates, handbooks, and guidelines. All in all, RNE’s mission is to help its Members meet the challenges of the rapidly-changing railway sector in Europe and to promote international rail traffic.
Today RailNetEurope is composed of 37 rail infrastructure managers and allocating bodies in Europe and RFCs.
The Rail Freight Corridor page of RNE can be found:http://rne eu/rail-freight-corridors-general-information/
Alpine – Western Balkan Rail Freight Corridor (AWB RFC)
There have been a number of initiatives for establishing a rail freight corridor covering the Western Balkan region:
In June 1997 a Pan-European Corridor X with the route Salzburg/Graz/Budapest – Belgrade -Thessaloniki/Sofia was established. In 2001 ARGE Korridor X was founded as an Austrian co-operation constituted under civil law in order to push railway subjects on the Pan-European Corridor X in close co-operation between the railway organizations from Greece to Germany. In 2008/2009 ARGE Corridor X transformed into Association Corridor X PLUS, which was a corridor association with legal entity in Austria. Between 2012 and 2018 preparations for a transformation into a Rail Freight Corridor were being made.
Following the joint efforts of the respective Ministries and Infrastructure Managers (ÖBB-Infrastructure-AUSTRIA, SŽ–Infrastructure-Slovenia, HŽ Infrastructure-CROATIA, Infrastructure Railway of Serbia-SERBIA and National Railway Infrastructure Company) from BULGARIA, and in line with the Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 and the Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2018/500 of 22 March 2018, the Alpine-Western Balkan Rail Freight Corridor (AWB RFC) is being established.
The Corridor started operating on 13th January 2020 when the first Catalogue of Pre-arranged paths (PaPs) was published.
AWB RFC facts and figures:
- The corridor conects five countries: Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria
- Five infrastructure managers cooperate : ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG (Austria), SŽ–Infrastruktura, d.o.o. (Slovenia), HŽ Infrastruktura d.o.o. (Coatia), Infrastruktura železnice Srbije a.d.((Serbia) and National Railway Infrastructure Company (Bulgaria)
- The length of corridor includes: 2,114 km principal lines and 31 km connected lines.
- The corridor route is: from Svilengrad in Bulgaria (on the border with Turkey) over Sofia – Belgrade – Zagreb to Zidani most in Slovenia, where the route divides on line over Maribor – Graz – to Wells and on line over Ljubljana – Villach to Salzburg
- Corridor covers: 21 intermodal terminals and 12 marshalling yards
According to the Article 8 of the Regulation (EU) 913/2010, the governance structure of the Corridor is established, as follows:
According to Regulation (EU) 913/2010, the Executive Board is consisted of the representatives of the authorities of the Corridor Member States. The Executive Board of AWB RFC is composed of the representatives of the relevant ministries of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria. The Executive Board was established on 11th of July 2018.
The President of the AWB RFC Executive Board is Mr. Boris Živec, Ministry of Infrastructure Republic of Slovenia.
According to the Regulation (EU) 913/2010, the Management Board of the AWB RFC has decided to take the legal form of an independent legal entity – Economic Interest Grouping (EIG) according to Slovenian law, from 27th of June 2019. As a consequence the role of the Management Board was taken over by the General Assembly of EIG AWB RFC.
Is composed of the representatives of the following infrastructure managers: ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG (Austria), SŽ–Infrastruktura, d.o.o. (Slovenia), HŽ INFRASTRUKTURA d.o.o. (Croatia), Infrastruktura železnice Srbije a.d. (Serbia) and National Railway Infrastructure Company (Bulgaria).
The Chairman of the General Assembly is Mr. Harald Hotz, ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, Austria.
Project Management Office (PMO)
PMO is the operational office of EIG AWB RFC, set up in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to support the implementation of the AWB RFC and to ensure the functioning of the EIG.
PMO executes the operational management of the AWB RFC. The PMO consists of three managers full time dedicated persons:
- Executive Manager,
- Infrastructure Manager and Operations and
- Operations and C-OSS Manager.
The PMO is led by the Executive Manager.
Corridor One-Stop Shop (C-OSS)
According to the Article 13 of the Regulation, a Corridor One-Stop-Shop (C-OSS) is set up. The C-OSS is a joint body for applicants to request and to receive answers, in a single place and in a single operation, regarding allocation of infrastructure capacity for freight trains crossing at least one border along the corridor. The C-OSS is a part of Permanent Management Office.
According to Regulation (EU) 913/2010, the AWB RFC Advisory Groups are set up:
- Terminal Advisory Group (TAG)
- Railway Undertaking Advisory Group (RAG)
The Advisory Groups enable the interested railway undertakings and terminal owners and managers to take part in the corridor development from a customer’s point of view.
Working Groups of AWB RFC
In order to facilitate the work of Corridor, several working groups consisting of infrastructure managers who are experts in specific areas, were set up for the time being. They are:
- Coordination Group
- WG Marketing & Communications
- WG Infrastructure & Interoperability
- WG Capacity,
- WG Train Performance & Operations