The interactive workshop “Operating high-speed lines: in search of efficient solutions” was held on 31 January 2019 at UIC headquarters, with the objective of defining possible rentability and profitability of high-speed railways at the exploitation phase, as well as the expediency of financing and support from financial institutions and governmental authorities.
The workshop was attended by railway infrastructure managers, railway undertakings, consultancy firms, university professors, a delegation from Russian Railways, a delegation from China Railways and a senior railway specialist from the World Bank (via video call); more than 20 highly qualified experts in the high-speed railway sector. The workshop combined best practice presentations, a round-table discussion based on priority topics as defined by online voting.
The first three were:
1) What to consider at planning phase to assure operational efficiency at exploitation phase? 45% of votes
2) Raising revenues from ticket sales: exchange of ideas. 27% of votes
3) Can yield management really help to attract more clients? 18% of votes
The participants at the workshop stated that as HSR is a societal-changing infrastructure system, the effects from its development are not only limited to financial parameters, and that the full range of socio-economic effects should be considered, so it was recommended to assess the overall socio-economic efficiency and not just the financial profitability. Furthermore, the intermodal complementary of services have been developing fast in different countries and different companies, and this kind of cooperation is also one of the factors of operational financial success. Planning HSR shall be coordinated at international level in order to create a comprehensive seamless network.
They unanimously recommended several important factors to be considered when planning operational efficiency:
- The full Life-Cycle cost estimation, considering de-commissioning too;
- The modelling should be used for project evaluation including the relevance of public interventions;
- The main asset of high-speed railways should be a fleet compliant with international standards, together with well-planned maintenance system for a long-term period contributing to operational efficiency;
- Yield management should be established in order to provide accessible transportation services for different segments of clients and to react in the best way to changing demand;
- High-speed railways are a booster of innovations, meanwhile innovative solutions with use of IT-systems should penetrate all high-speed operations from the very beginning, to assure faster speed not only at transportation stage but also at all other stages of a client’s route from decision-making and ticket purchase to automated feedback on services;
- Development of low-cost services with strict rules and some restrictions for customers could be one of the options to increase efficiency;
- Door-to-door transportation is a must, as part of railway services. Underestimation of this part of services may lead to insufficient financial and economic results, as customers will prefer other services with last mile proposals.