Project objectives and state-of-the-artThe main objective of the RETRACK project is to develop, demonstrate and implement an innovative and market-tested rail freight service along an East-West trans-European corridor. This axis will be composed of a backbone corridor connecting Rotterdam with the Black Sea seaport Constanza in Romania, as shown on the map below. Subsequently, this business plan is extended to service of the Bratislava-Budapest logistical hub located at the new Central European industrial cluster which covers Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria. New service lines connecting Bratislava-Budapest with Nordic and Baltic states will be opened, followed by establishment of south-east corridor section linking this new European powerhouse with important trade partners in Black Sea region such as Turkey and Ukraine.
Figure 1 - The rail core corridor Rotterdam-Constanza, whose operational and market-related feasibility
will be demonstrated by the RETRACK project
The RETRACK rail freight service will connect traditional Member States (the Netherlands, Germany, Greece and Scandinavia) with new EU Entrants (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania), the Candidate Countries (Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey), with important EU trade partners (Ukraine and Russia), and overseas production centers in South-eastern Asia. This will be effectuated by a business project offering high-quality of rail intermodal service applying the latest rail transport techniques, information and communication technologies, and logistics solutions for safe and secure transfer of goods in trans-European corridors. This business solution will be developed using research on new service offerings followed by the testing, improvement and validation of results of operational pilots.
The rail freight ventures in the RETRACK project operating through European Bulls consortium are all new entrants into rail freight supply. They exploit business opportunities created by rail liberalisation and the ongoing work on removal of operational, institutional and technical fragmentation between the national railway systems through standardisation of infrastructure, IT systems and rolling stock (e.g., TSI and TSI-TAF) carried out by the EIFF, ERRAC and the European Railway Agency. The RETRACK project will demonstrate how several market-driven rail operations can be integrated with strategic port hubs that provide access to large goods repositories for balanced intermodal freight transfer along the corridors studied.
By including new rail entrepreneurs who invest their proprietary managerial and financial resources in establishment of new rail ventures offering high-quality/customised rail services targeted at the until-now-truck-served market segments, the RETRACK team provides the ultimate evidence that the new EC railway policy is gaining ground in Europe. Furthermore, the RETRACK project shall demonstrate, using the market-growth knowledge, how business expansion of new rail entrepreneurs can be supported through field-validation of new service concepts which, when incorporated into new business and management models may be transferred into stable service offerings. Recognition of the above is critical for bridging the imbalance between the motorised freight conveyance and rail intermodal transport; without heavy risk-taking by the new rail entrepreneurs, any sizable freight transfer from motorised haulage to rail intermodal transportation wonít take place. Likewise, without intensification of intra-rail competition, any significant reduction in negative socio-environmental externalities wonít be achieved. Higher level of intra-rail competition will subsequently stimulate the inter-modal road and rail rivalry, improving thereby rail service quality, the competitive position of rail operators in international freight market, and the volumes of freight carried by intermodal rail operations.
Although the new railway legislation has radically changed the rail business environment, the degrees of transformation vary considerably from country to country and some political and administrative interventions for market opening and non-discriminatory treatment of new rail entrants still need to be implemented. In this connection, the RETRACK project will detect both the opportunities and the barriers that foster/hinder seamless freight flow along the corridors studied. Next, it will devise strategies for better exploitation of opportunities through removal of existing barriers, and propose how these measures may be used by rail entrepreneurs to develop new service concepts. Subsequently, the RETRACK team will evaluate how this corridor-driven market expansion may foster economic growth and improve the socio-environmental conditions in industrial production regions emerging in the newly extended Europe.
The project will support the Commissionís aspirations to induce a sustainable modal shift of freight traffic from road to rail to achieve a market share of 15% by 2020. This aspiration is also supported by the European Rail Research Advisory Councilís (ERRAC) declared aim of bolstering railís market share of freight to a similar level.
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