Innovative Track Access Charges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A detailed and serious cost calculation is a precondition for a competitive offer of railway traffic services in future. This task does not only concern the Train Operating Companies (TOCs), but also the Infrastructure Managers (IMs) when transferring the infrastructure costs into track access charges. These charges are subject to discussions since they were foreseen in the European regulations back in the 1990-ies the first time. The principle, to charge the “cost that is directly incurred as a result of operating the train service”, lead to numerous different interpretation throughout Europe. Beside the legislation, it is still the objective of the IM to calculate the costs for the single train. Averaged charges based on gross-tonne-kilometres are definitely no proper estimation.

It is essential to base the charge on three levels. The first level is the network-section or line. The costs of Railway's permanent way differ very much on the given boundary conditions. Curved, mountainous sections come up with costs that are very likely up to three times higher compared to straight sections. Averaging costs network-wide leads to unfair conditions. Modulating gross-tonne-based charges due to the line conditions is the first necessary attempt in order to calculate “directly incurred costs”. A proper cost accounting system provides all necessary input data.

The second step has to be seen from the view of the competiveness of railway freight transport. Just allocating costs does not include the cost-by-cause principle. The infrastructure is designed and maintained to the highest needs of the collective of all users. One example is the quality of track geometry that generates much higher costs if only one train is operated on high speed. These high costs are distributed to all trains if simply allocating it to gross-tonnage. Turnouts are a second major cost driver. As only the cost level is given by the accounting system, this steps needs a modelling process. Calculating gross-tonne-costs on a defined quality level is possible using detailed cost analyses for different assets at different quality standards. This second step makes it possible to calculate a cost level for freight operation, not covering the additional costs of fast or regional passenger services, and is therefore a pre-condition for a competitive railway freight service in a tight market situation.

Last but not least, the quality of rolling stock is an essential part of the generated infrastructure costs. The forces of the rail-wheel-contact define the wear and damage process on the track involving the maintenance cost to be charged. It needs a sound track deterioration model to calculate the cost relevance of different forces. This modulation is an important step towards lower overall costs of the total railway system, as optimisation of subsystems is eliminated.

In the end, Track Access Charges must be calculated on a much more detailed level in order to cover the goals defined by the cost-by-cause principle and a non-discriminatory access to railway infrastructure. Most of the necessary data are existing, it needs to transform the detailed cost calculation to a manageable charging system.
Translated title of the contributionInnovative Trassenbenützungsgebühren
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1884 - 1893
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Procedia
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2016
EventTRA2016 - Warschau, Poland
Duration: 18 Apr 201621 Apr 2016

Fields of Expertise

  • Sustainable Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Innovative Track Access Charges'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this