The opening of the European Freight Corridors in 2013 undoubtedly laid the foundations for a structured collaboration between European Infrastructure Managers aimed at implementing the provisions of Regulation 913/2010 for competitive freight transport. This collaboration subsequently went from strength to strength, in part due to the fruitful consultation of railway undertakings and customers who have provided the Management Boards of the Corridors with significant input needed to improve the competitiveness of international freight transport.

In light of the above, the Infrastructure Managers involved in the Corridors’ activities have identified further activities and procedures in addition to those already provided for in order to comply with the minimum requirements of the Regulation. Particularly significant is the drafting and adoption of a manual for unplanned disruptions, known as the Handbook for International Contingency Management (ICM).

The main event that prompted the railway industry to define ICM procedures was the track failure in both directions, which took place on 12 August 2017 near Rastatt (Germany - Rhine Valley), causing an unprecedented shutdown of the railway logistics chain across Europe, with very serious economic consequences for many European companies. The closure of the line (which lasted 51 days) highlighted the need for increasingly cross-border and interconnected freight traffic in the European Union and the need to provide standardised European procedures for managing unplanned disruptions in order to identify coordinated mitigating measures.

The ICM procedures have been adopted by all Freight Corridors and provide, in the event of unplanned disruptions lasting more than three days and affecting more than fifty per cent of international rail traffic, standard, transparent procedures for sharing and publicising information, identifying rerouting lines and allocating residual capacity to Railway Undertakings.

The ICM has been concretely tested by means of ad hoc simulations to test and improve its effectiveness and has also been applied with varying degrees of success in some real cases (e.g. ScanMed Corridor/8 May 2019/ Rendsburg - Alt-Duvenstedt; Mediterranean Corridor/22 November 2019/Sète-Beziers; Alpine Rhine Corridor/2 April 2020/Freiburg-Basel).

Although further refinements are inevitably necessary and desirable, given the complexity of the European railway system as a whole, the railway sector has welcomed this important initiative as a concrete step towards the effective creation of the Single European Area.