Increase in ROLA capacities off to a successful start

The extended sectoral driving ban in Tyrol has been in force since the turn of the year. And with it, many more trucks have been shifted to the rails. ROLA is in full swing on the Brenner Pass, providing punctual and high-quality handling services for up to 46 trains a day.

The extensive sectoral driving ban came into force in Tyrol at the beginning of 2020. As a result, rail will be the only option for transit trucks affected by the driving ban on the route that crosses the Brenner. As a reliable partner for the shift from road to rail, ÖBB set the course for this at an early stage. Since the turn of the year, the Rail Cargo Group has been successively increasing the capacities of the Rolling Road (ROLA), with the aim to shift considerably more trucks on to the rails and thus make a significant contribution to relieving the transit-stricken population. The short loading and unloading times of the ROLA trains enable swift train turnaround times and high frequency transport services. This means that many trucks can be transported through Tyrol by train in an environmentally friendly manner. This is also an advantage for haulage companies. They can transfer their trucks from road to rail quickly and without having to purchase additional equipment, and thus make an important contribution to protecting the Tyrolean population and the environment from pollution. In addition to the Wörgl–Brennersee connection, haulage companies can also avail of the Wörgl–Trento connection and thus up to 46 trains a day on the Brenner axis.

All going to plan for the ROLA programme

The increased availability of services will also be handled as planned in the dense rail traffic on the Lower Inn Valley and Brenner route and creates an acceptable alternative to the motorway. ROLA’s capacity utilization on the Brenner-Wörgl route has increased significantly since the turn of the year. ÖBB and the State of Tyrol will present their first conclusive mid-tern appraisal of the programme in the near future. "We already made provisions early on in close cooperation with the State of Tyrol in order to be able to handle the increased ROLA demand", says Bernhard Ebner, Business Unit Manager Intermodal at Rail Cargo Group. "We prepared thoroughly over the course of the previous year, and this is paying off. From the booking process and handling at the terminal through to the train journey itself and taking care of the drivers, we are able to consistently provide our customers with a high-quality service". Every day, around 200 employees are out handling the ROLA trains, which weigh about 1,300 tonnes. What is more, the ROLA prices as of the beginning of the year on the Brenner axis will not be increased for the first quarter. This means that haulage companies affected by the sectoral driving ban will have a simple and attractive alternative to road transport. Finally, capacities on the Brenner axis will be doubled. This will enable us to meet the need for shifting trucks from road to rail and transport them through Tyrol in an environmentally friendly manner.

Over 1,000 fewer trucks on Tyrol's roads every day

The State of Tyrol is pleased about this positive development: "At its full capacity, this means one ROLA train per hour and direction travels on the Brenner axis. If the available capacities were fully utilised, this would result in around 1,000 fewer trucks per day on the motorway. Thus, the Federal State of Tyrol and the ÖBB are making a significant contribution to relieving the transit-stricken population. In addition, an important contribution will be made to protecting our environment and the climate in our State", said Ingrid Felipe, Deputy Governor of Tyrol. Successful test runs in spring and autumn this year have shown that the rail programme on this route poses no problems. All ROLA low-floor wagons are already equipped with disc brakes, which make them low-noise. Two thirds of the Rail Cargo Group's remaining fleet of freight wagons already consists of quiet wagons and, by the end of 2021, more than 90 % will be running on quiet brake pads. Another important change for Tyrol will be the so-called "Quieter Routes", which will be introduced throughout the EU from 2024. From 2024, all freight wagons running on these routes must be "quiet". In Tyrol, the Kufstein–Brenner railway line will become a "Quiet Route", which is de facto a ban on "noisy" freight wagons in Tyrol. The required measures will halve of the perceived noise level of freight traffic.