Railports Carex

EURO CAREX : Cargo Rail Express

Operation › Slots & Rail tolls

Securing night-time slots to meet the needs of CAREX shippers

In order to run a train between two points on a rail route, rail operators must secure timeslots from the appropriate rail infrastructure managers.

In the context of the Carex project, the securing of night-time slots is vital to the viability of the service and its ability to work in phase with shippers' transport schedules, and particularly those of express carriers.

But in France and Belgium, high-speed rail lines are closed at night for maintenance work. These so-called blancs travaux periods impose greater restrictions on high-speed lines than on standard lines.

Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) has therefore been tasked with studying the feasibility of making these night-time slots available on the high-speed rail routes of France. The purpose of this "Slots & Maintenance Periods" study is to identify conditions under which trains can be permitted to travel at night, and put forward a solution for arranging maintenance periods and procedures in such a way as to minimise the negative impact on journey times.

The French rail infrastructure manager has therefore collected information from those future Carex customers already identified (GEC CAREX) concerning the service times they require. This information is currently being assessed by RFF and its counterparts elsewhere in Europe: Infrabel (Belgium), ProRail (The Netherlands), Eurotunnel, HS1 (UK) and DB Netz (Germany). In practice, achieving continuity of slots between rail networks requires a significant amount of synchronisation on the part of infrastructure managers.

The fees payable for rail infrastructure usage

The allocation of slots and the use of national rail networks will be subject to the payment of fees to the relevant rail infrastructure manager. These fees are also referred to as rail tolls.

Although charging systems differ from country to country, the highest common fee is charged for the reservation of capacity (slots). This fee is paid by every rail operator granted a slot, and is calculated on the basis of a unit rate per kilometre, subject to the addition of a variable element applied as a ratio to reflect:

  • the type of line used: the cost of using a high-speed line or high-traffic line is higher than for a low-speed and/or local traffic line
  • the time of use: the rates charged at off-peak times, and particularly during the night, are lower than those charged at peak times
  • the nature of the train for which the slot is reserved
  • the type and speed of the rolling stock used


In France, this reservation fee is included in the category referred to as des redevances pour prestations minimales (minimum service fees), which also includes network access and usage fees.

Rail infrastructure operators also apply other fees in respect, for example, of access to electrical power equipment and installations.

Depending on the country, the rates charged for freight slots may be higher or lower than those charged for passenger slots.

The Carex project as part of the French government’s "national commitment to rail freight"!

Flux rss

Yanick Paternotte, Member of the French Parliament, Chairman of Roissy Carex and Euro Carex and author of the Parliamentary report «Remettre le fret sur les rails : un défi économique, social et environnemental» (Getting freight back on track: an economic, social and environmental challenge) is ... Read more