EU moves to address rail infrastructure following tunnel collapse

The EU is moving to improve rail safety following a tunnel collapse this year. ( Photo: Shutterstock )

Following the collapse of a rail tunnel at the district of Rastatt in the city of Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany, the European Union has adopted new rules to “improve international coordination of infrastructure works,” the Handy Shipping Guide reports. The rules are viewed as a reactionary measure to the rail tunnel’s collapse under pressure from the public over safety concerns.

The rules were put in place to “create a more customer-oriented network” with the goal of better and more reliable rail services, a move that has been welcomed so far by the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA).

An annex replacing Annex VII to Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a single European railway area,” it emphasized the timetable for adjustments as “once per calendar year.”

Other changes applied were as follows:


  • Early advance warning. According to [Article 43] Annex VII (3) of the Schedule for the Allocation Process, “The deadline for receipt of requests for capacity to be incorporated into the working timetable shall be no more than twelve months in advance of the change of the working timetable.”
  • Early coordination work. According to Annex VII (4) of the Schedule for the Allocation Process, “No later than 11 months before the change of the working timetable, the infrastructure managers shall ensure that provisional international train paths have been established in cooperation with other relevant infrastructure managers.”
  • Involvement of stakeholders in the early coordination. Involvement meaning there is no single infrastructure manager that will be the sole decision-maker in the project in case more adjustments are foreseen. Approval of the other infrastructure manager(s) involved in the same project was reiterated in the second paragraph of Annex VII (6) of the Schedule for the Allocation Process, stating “The infrastructure manager may reschedule an allocated train path if it is necessary to ensure the best possible matching of all path requests and if it is approved by the applicant to which the path has been allocated.”
  • Early and precise communication. The preciseness of the timetable is emphasized in a list of requirements following the “coordination before the second publication shall be completed” as stated in Annex VII (11) in relation to Annex VII (8)’s publishing requirements of capacity restrictions.


In effect, increasing the time allotted for the preparation, coordination and ground-laying itself are put into consideration without losing sight of disruptions that result.

The changes are expected to start in 2018, with more impact to come by 2019. The level of impact foreseen by the year 2020 will depend on how much impact changes in 2018 and 2019 have.

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