How does operational mobility management work, are there any visions for transport in the year 2050 and when will rail transport become quieter? We are looking at issues like these with various partners and international research institutes in long-term projects and multilateral discussion processes. This area of our activities contributes to the overall financing of the Pro-Rail Alliance by providing so-called third-party funding. Here is an overview of our projects:

Forum for Low-Noise Railways

Download: Booklet: Seven Steps on the Way to Low-Noise Rail Freight Traffic (English)

When regarding freight and passenger transport as a whole, rail is the most environmentally friendly mode of motorised transport - with the exception of traffic noise. Reducing noise levels from the railways has in recent years become an important issue: for those affected, for policymakers and for the rail sector. The railways have to become quieter – that is what people who are affected expect.

The rail sector also has an interest in improving the current situation because the noise issue is threatening to affect the public’s acceptance of rail transport. However, the task of reducing noise levels is anything but trivial. Numerous stakeholders are involved, while at the same time, rail transport has to be able to compete with the roads so the policy of shifting transport onto the railways, which is important for both the environment and climate protection, is not endangered. A dialogue process offers all stakeholders who are committed to reducing noise levels the opportunity to face this challenge, overcome existing barriers and to achieve real progress.

Sponsored by the German Federal Environment Agency, the Pro-Rail Alliance will organize until Spring 2016 different closed workshops for all important national stakeholders. The main parties are not only companies from across the railway sector (train operators, railway industry, rolling stock manufacturers, leasing companies), but also several civil society organisations. This ensures that both the rail sector’s point of view is represented as well as that of those affected. The project will be an intensive dialogue process and will cover the following issues:

  • to make the noise abatement strategies of the rail sector stakeholders transparent and provide a basis for better coordination;
  • to identify barriers to noise reduction (short-term and longer-term) as well as ways of overcoming these;
  • to discuss the necessary framework conditions (including an estimate on how the railways’ competitiveness will be affected);
  • to compile a set of recommendations.

“The right way” – operational mobility management

Operational mobility management in an innovative instrument that companies can use to effectively reduce car traffic in their locations. For commuter traffic, mobility management aims to influence commuters’ transport behaviour. In order to achieve this, the goal is to make alternatives to the car such as public transport, bicycles and car-sharing more attractive.

To be successful, mobility management has to closely match the needs of the people commuting to work as well as the conditions in the area where the company is located. It is therefore necessary to always begin with an analysis of the initial situation. This is the basis for developing concrete incentives and improving the framework conditions for buses and trains, as well as bicycles and car-sharing.

There is a large spectrum of possible measures, including attractive job-ticket offers, leasing services for company bicycles, and introducing modern Web/Smartphone based car-sharing exchanges. Even small measures can often have a large effect, such as lighting pedestrian access to bus/tram stops and train stations or allowing cyclists to use one-way roads in both directions. The solutions offered by mobility management are as individual as the companies themselves.

Under the lead management of the ACE Auto Club Europa, the Pro-Rail Alliance will be running two workshops (concluding by early 2016) that aim to take stock of current operational mobility management in the transport sector and extend a helping hand to interested companies with a set of recommendations.

LivingRAIL: Vision Rail 2050

For transport in Europe, ‘business as usual’ is not at option - too much, too dirty, too many accidents, too expensive for society. An analysis of the status quo is met with general agreement, but how can transport become greener? What would a transport system look like that satisfies the public’s mobility needs, reduces impact on the environment and resources, and is also economically viable? In other words: how can transport contribute towards a high standard of living in Europe?

To this end the Pro-Rail Alliance and seven partners from six European countries, under the lead management of the Fraunhofer Institute for System and Innovation Research, has developed a ‘railmap’ of 62 complex measures covering in 10 areas of activity: networks, rail reform, planning instruments, customer-oriented services, city planning, financing, mobility management, train stations, rolling stock and regulation. This took into account the regional variations: densely populated, more prosperous areas in the centre of Europe compared with thinly populated on Europe’s periphery. Since the EU has set a very ambitious goal in its Whitepaper on Transport to shift 50 percent of transport onto the environmentally friendly railways, the measures described must be initiated without delay.

The top measure in terms of effectiveness and efficiency is the expansion and the upgrading of the rail network in order to cope with the projected three to five-fold increase in railway traffic by 2050. In second place is a reform of the railways and policy, integrated planning and an improved range of services. Other important changes include denser timetables in all regions, door-to-door services, optimised advice and information for passenger and freight services as well as Europe-wide logistics platforms.

USEmobility: Why do you travel by train?

„Understanding Social behaviour for Eco-friendly multimodal mobility“ – that is the full title of the EU project USEmobility. Surveys in ten selected regions in five European countries aimed to provide an answer. The project used a novel approach: Europeans were not asked what they think needs to happen in order to encourage them to use public transport in future instead of their cars - in other words no unrealistic wish lists and well-meant statements of intent. Instead, people who had already switched to using buses and trains were asked why they had decided to switch - to find out exactly why they had changed their transport behavioural patterns.

The results of the EU project USEmobility: People in Europe are surprisingly flexible when it comes to choosing their mode of transport. Within the last five years, around half of all travellers in Europe have made changes to their own transport habits and have tried out a new mobility mix.

Transport researchers found out that people review their established choice of transport mode in every new phase of their life circumstances, from how to get to school to starting an apprenticeship, from changing job to retiring. And: half of all those surveyed have actually made such a change within the last five years.

On the basis of the project's findings, the project consortium suggested a series of measures that will promote change towards multi-modal transport usage patterns in the medium to long-term. USEmobility developed scenarios for the future and discussed them intensively with policy makers and transport companies.

The project was managed by the Pro Rail Alliance in cooperation with Quotas Market Research, BSL Transportation Consultants, the European Passengers’ Federation (Belgium), the Clean Air Action Group (Hungary), the Austrian Transport Club VCÖ and Savez za Zeljeznicu from Croatia.

FLAVIA: From Truck to Train

The aim of the FLAVIA project was to improve intermodal freight transport logistics between central and southeastern Europe, while at the same time strengthening the environmentally friendly modes of transport rail and inland waterways. Switching road freight to these greener transport modes will provide relief for the roads and improve the accessibility of the regions in central and south-eastern Europe.

FLAVIA contributes towards better exploiting the potential in Europe's rail freight sector. The fact that this potential exists can be seen by comparing the market share of rail freight in countries such as the USA, Russia or Australia, where the goods train is the most important mode of transport in the freight transport market.

One of FLAVIA's main tasks was to use examples of modal shift Best Practice to demonstrate how the railways can be successfully integrated into the logistics process, saving costs and resources.

The project collected and presented success stories from companies that have in recent years shifted their logistics processes from trucks to trains. These examples of modal shift came from seven European countries and from different sectors of industry. They will serve other companies as models and help them in their decision-making processes.

Fifteen partners from seven countries collaborated on the project. The cooperating partners were universities, companies and organizations from Germany, Austria, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Rumania. Another eight associate partners supported the project. It was coordinated by Professor Herbert Sonntag, who teaches Transport Logistics at the Technical University of Applied Sciences in Wildau.

ESTRaB – The freight transport revolution has begun

CargoBeamer: teaching trucks to use the railways
The project ‘Efficient Semi-Trailer Transport on Rail Baltica’ was intended to support the market introduction of the CargoBeamer, a new technology for handling freight transport. The CargoBeamer can load so-called semi-trailers onto trains, which would make around 60% of all HGV journey redundant. The European Commission supported the project with funds from the Marco Polo II programme because it saw an opportunity to make transit transport, particularly to Eastern Europe, more efficient and environmentally friendly.

60 % of all HGVs on trains
Over 60 percent of all HGVs on Europe’s motorways use semi-trailers, but only two percent of these semi-trailers have been adapted so that they can be loaded onto environmentally friendly trains. The CargoBeamer loading technology, made up of new types of terminals and wagons, makes it possible to transport all existing semi-trailers by rail – without having to be adapted. This means that semi-trailers can now finally profit from the advantages of the combined transport system, in which the larger part of the transport journey is by rail and rest by road.

CargoBeamer: faster and cheaper

  • suitable for all semi-trailers (not just those adapted for cranes)
  • loads/unloads the semi-trailers in parallel at the same time
  • can also be used under overhead cables
  • no need for shunting wagons
  • the time to load and unload is only 15 minutes
  • compared with road-only transport, CargoBeamer can reduce the cost of a unit of freight by more than 10 percent, depending on the route

Compatible with existing systems
The CargoBeamer technology complements existing, large-scale combined-transport terminals for road and rail. CargoBeamer wagons can also use the traditional crane terminals, which means that no insular solutions or parallel systems will evolve – essential for a ‘networked’ system like the railways.

ECORailS: Improved energy efficiency for regional passenger

From May 2009 to June 2011, the German Pro-Rail Alliance (Allianz pro Schiene) was a participant in the international project ECORailS. ECORailS is an acronym of 'Energy Efficiency and Environmental Criteria in the Awarding of Regional Rail Transport Vehicles and Services' and was supported by the EU as part of its programme 'Intelligent Energy for Europe'. The project developed guidelines for Europe's Passenger Transport Authorities (PTAs) that will help them to integrate environmental criteria into their invitations for tenders and public service contracts.

The main focus was on reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions, in compliance with the aims of the European Funding Programme. The ECORailS project's goal therefore was to develop guidelines that lead to a reduction of the specific energy consumption and CO2 emissions of the regional railways: by 5 % in comparison with current rules; by 10 % compared with currently existing rolling stock; and a system wide reduction of 15 % (EU wide regional passenger rail) by 2020.

The Guidelines that were developed by the ECORailS project had to take into account European public procurement laws to ensure that they are of practical use for regional transport PTAs from as many European countries as possible. Therefore, the Guidelines contain prepared legally compliant text passages that will help to incorporate energy efficiency criteria into invitations for tender and awarded contracts.

An analysis of the regulatory situation within the EU and the six countries cooperating in the ECORailS project showed that it is permitted to stipulate, or give a higher weighting to, environmental criteria when inviting tenders. This also applies when the demands are very ambitious and exceed the vehicle licensing regulations or conditions for using the rail network.