Queue for coffee with...
...Harald Hotz, Head of International Relations at ÖBB Infra and Head of RailNetEurope
> Can you tell us about your role towards the Rail Freight Corridors? I represent ÖBB Infrastuktur AG in the Management Boards of the Corridors Scandinavian-Mediteranean, Orient - East Med and Rhine-Danube and chair that of the Corridor Baltic – Adriatic. Therefore, I spend a lot of time with RFC-items. This is only possible, if you believe in RFCs and I do believe in RFCs. I am convinced that RFCs are a very good tool to stengthen Rail against Road. The overall objective is to raise the market share of rail in the European transport sector. We, as Rail Infrastructure Managers, can contribute by providing and selling more and better infrastructure capacity for freight on the existing infrastructure. This means not to wait for major investments in the future but to start right now with organisational measures to achieve this goal.
> What are the most urgent challenges to solve according to you? The biggest challenge for sure is to overcome national borders. At the end of the day a Rail Freight Corridor should be like one piece of infrastructure. And we are many miles away from that vision. As long as Rail Infrastructure Managers insist on their national procedures, provisions and tools we will not really make progress. We may not underestimate the political influence. In many European countries, the political programme is driven by „national first“. These are not the best circumstances to successfully develop European Rail Freight Corridors without borders. There are a lot of activities, initiatives and projects we are dealing with at the moment. From my point of view, the Timetable Redesign Project (TTR-project) carried out by RNE together with the RU-organisations FTE and ERFA is the most important one. It will ensure perfect path allocation for all types of rail traffic and overcome the annual timetable where it is not suitable any more. This will support our activities on the RFCs in a most valuable way, especially in terms of pre arranged train paths and reserve capacity. Unfortunately it will last five to seven years till full implementation. And this leads to a concrete challenge we are facing today: we cannot just wait. We have to use this time to improve our current business processes. I am deeply convinced that we can do a lot better just by improving our bilateral relations between Infrastructure Managers in all relevent business areas. The RFCs force Rail Infrastructure Managers to a much more efficient cooperation than in the past. This is the real challenge!
> Where do you see the strengths and weaknesses of ScanMed RFC in the network of Rail Freight Corridors? Representatives from Railway Undertakings told me last summer that they are very statisfied with the offer of prearranged train paths on ScanMed RFC, in particular in comparison with other RFCs. This is in any case a compliment and a good reason to continue this way. I very much estimate that all IMs on RFC ScanMed believe in RFCs. We have a clear customer-oriented strategy and a powerful Corridor management team for the day-to-day business. The integration of the RFC in the organisation of the IMs or vice-versa could be better, but we are not worse than others, all RFCs suffer from a certain distance between the relevant departments in the IMs organisation and the working groups in the RFCs.
> Where do you want the Rail Freight Corridors to be in 10 years? The cooperation between IMs is the biggest challenge. Therefore, I dream of the „United Infrastructure Managers“ along all Rail Freight Corridors. Their perfect cooperation will make borders invisible. There is just one product catalogue for the Network of Corridors, and the access to these services is easy. As a result of this approach, we have gained a lot of market shares - and due to a perfect cooperation along the Corridors, the next step can be taken: that of a European Rail Network.