Tuesday 19 February 2019

A Digital Road Map for Rail Freight

Second workshop of European Rail Freight CIOs held on 12 February 2019 in Paris

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After the successful kick off on 11 December 2018 (see eNews 627), Freight CIOs held their second workshop at UIC on 12 February.

To be competitive in the 21st century, a new vision of the industry needs to be developed. In the same vein as road is always pushing the limits of technology, Rail Freight, as an industry, should adopt a more technologically-minded approach. This aspect is also contained in the “30 by 2030” Rail Freight Sector Strategy Paper as one of the three key levers to achieve modal shift.

The vision of the Freight CEOs is to increase modal share by 30%. In order to accomplish modal shift, the railway sector needs to become more customer focussed, more competitive and must concentrate on multimodal and door-to-door services. This is difficult, as operators face several service and cost challenges, including the fact that many external costs for freight services are internalised (i.e. access fees). This factor is not inherent in the competing modes, where access to infrastructure is considerably less costly or non-existent.

Therefore, solutions must be implemented on a collaborative basis to increase consistency, efficiency, transparency and better product offerings, including tracing, through enhanced data exchange. Keeping a customer-oriented focus, such exchange of information is expected to achieve the following goals:

  • Significant cost reduction by reducing manual efforts in data acquisition and by using standard data formats
  • Higher customer satisfaction by better information quality (e. g. ETA) and quicker information provision
  • Optimised dispatching and better provision of information to customers through easier data capture
  • Better quality of operations through the reduction of data errors and the elimination of system breaks

The two workshops aimed to identify digital solutions based on a process to address these challenges which will help level the playing field in freight transportation, vis-à-vis the road carriers. Such solutions must address the need to share information and find collaborative methods to improve productivity and interoperability of the rail freight network.

The roadmap which will be discussed by Freight CEOs at the annual meeting in May (Paris) is to identify:

  • Priority issues to be tackled collectively
  • Tools and resources necessary support and implement solutions to these issues
  • Required access, confidentiality and availability of data
  • Simplified business processes to enhance existing and introduce new service offerings in a multimodal environment
  • Added value for the rail freight sector

For further information please contact Sandra Géhénot, UIC Freight Director:


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