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PRIME is an open forum of European rail infrastructure managers and of the European Commission.

PRIME presents fifth benchmarking report covering 2012-2020

Key findings

While most of the sectors have reduced their CO2 emissions over time, the transport sector has increased them. Recognized as the mode of transport with the lowest emissions, rail can play a major role in lowering the sector’s environmental impact and making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Green Deal therefore made an increased use of rail a cornerstone of the EU’s mobility strategy over the next decades. Significantly shifting traffic from road and aviation to rail requires the rail sector to become even more attractive. Rail infrastructure managers work hard to provide safe, reliable, green, smart, and affordable railway infrastructure for the transport of people and goods.

The PRIME Benchmarking Report presents key performance indicators that cover all these dimensions. The report has two main objectives: to monitor common trends at the EU level; and to benchmark performance and by so doing to strive for better results.

This fifth PRIME report is the first report that presents data generated during the pandemic. The report features data from 2016 onwards, giving the possibility to assess 2020 against the backdrop of long-term trends. Several developments that were registered in 2020 stand out from the trends of previous years. The most notable one is the sharp decline in train utilisation, both passenger (- 11%) and freight train (- 7%). Both climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic are global crises calling for global responses. With its 24 benchmarking members, the PRIME KPI & Benchmarking subgroup creates a space for European infrastructure managers to come together, to cooperate and to benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience.

19 participating infrastructure managers and a more complete dataset
19 infrastructure managers have jointly agreed on the key performance indicators that are relevant for their business and provided data creating an impressive data base. It follows last year’s objective in providing a comprehensive report with more detailed explanations and contextual information to make the wealth of data more accessible. With two new participants and a more complete dataset it continues its positive development.

Significance extends beyond the benchmarking subgroup

PRIME data and definitions can serve the needs of a large range of rail experts and policy makers. By measuring and sharing the results, PRIME aims to demonstrate to the wider public that the rail sector is committed to improving its service provision.

First report with data reflecting the COVID-19 pandemic

The fifth PRIME Benchmarking Report presents 2020 data. It is therefore the first report that reflects the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the rail sector. While it is not the report’s ambition to establish clear causal links between the pandemic and the 2020 figures, the report contains a chapter on the KPIs whose evolution between 2019 and 2020 markedly contrasts with the evolution from 2016 to 2019, likely reflecting the impact of the pandemic on the rail sector.

Report methodology

In this report, the key indicators will each be shown in a time series and a benchmarking chart, presenting key trends and a cross-comparison of infrastructure managers. However, the quantitative results can only be interpreted meaningfully if the main influencing factors are taken into account: infrastructure managers are operating in different countries under different geographic and political circumstances. Without considering the different characteristics of the infrastructure managers and their structural peculiarities, meaningful comparisons cannot be achieved. For this reason, background information on the specific contexts of the infrastructure managers and rail infrastructure is provided for each indicator. Influencing factors cover climate, socio-demographic, historical and political, economic, technical factors, and services provided by the infrastructure manager.

PRIME External Report 2020

PRIME External Report 2020

Benchmarking reports from earlier years, as well as the catalogue of definitions can be found in the section Subgroups, KPI and Benchmarking.

PRIME Work Programme 2023

PRIME Work Programme 2023 ADOPTED.pdf

Summary of PRIME study on Charging and State Funding of Infrastructure Managers

This summary presents the main findings of a deep dive study on charging and State funding of European infrastructure managers. The report is based on a survey about the funding systems and structure of participating PRIME members. To inform an interested public this summary describes similarities, differences, experiences, and difficulties of rail infrastructure managers in the area of funding. The analysis is divided into three sections:

1. Long-term network strategies, providing an overview of infrastructure managers’ long-term network plans and their strategy for development
2. Funding frameworks, structuring the individual funding schemes and the respective amounts of individual elements within
3. Contractual agreements, describing the multi-annual contracts between infrastructure managers and the competent authority of the Member State based on Directive 2012/23/EU

Key findings

The study findings testify to the fact that infrastructure managers will be confronted with three main challenges in the coming years:
1. More than half of the infrastructure managers in the study are confronted with a backlog of their maintenance and/or renewal activities. These backlogs occur if maintenance and renewal is smaller than the wear and tear of the existing assets. The renewal of the infrastructure is a European priority. 
2. The volume and certainty of the budget available is of considerable importance, but also important is how flexible infrastructure managers are in the allocation and use of the funds for upkeep, according to the life cycle costs of their assets. 
3. Harmonizing the interplay of funding sources remains an ongoing challenge for infrastructure managers and member states. State funding and mark-ups must complement each other to cover the total cost that exceed direct cost.

Summary of the PRIME study on charging and State funding of European infrastructure managers


Discussion Paper: how infrastructure managers are helping to create a low-carbon transport system

The new Platform of Rail Infrastructure Managers in Europe (PRIME) discussion paper explores members’ initiatives and projects designed to mitigate climate change and support the transition to a climate-neutral economy. Against a background of increased demand for sustainable transport, the paper will support discussions on how infrastructure managers can help decarbonise transport, tackle capacity challenges, and adapt to the circular economy.

Rail infrastructure managers have a crucial role to play in improving and increasing railway services. If the EU wants to meet its objective of becoming climate neutral by 2050, transport patterns will need to change very rapidly. A strong focus should therefore be on existing rail lines, for instance on capacity gains from digitalisation and operational improvements, such as better cross-border coordination of timetabling, traffic management and works. To the same aim, the ongoing evaluation of Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 on rail freight corridors offers the sector an opportunity to identify possible improvements that would allow infrastructure managers, and the rail sector more broadly, to better serve freight clients through more efficient processes and coordination.

Infrastructure managers can also contribute to decarbonisation by improving their own processes, thereby mitigating climate change. The paper presents a number of existing initiatives, for example addressing green procurement and a circular economy approach to infrastructure components and materials. They demonstrate that maximising sustainability is already a concern for infrastructure managers, and that their actions could feed a broader European reflection.


SNCF Réseau promotes the results of the PRIME Benchmarking work

SNCF Réseau organised a meeting (20 September, 2019, Paris) to present the results of the PRIME Benchmarking work

The idea was to present PRIME generally and in particular its work in benchmarking the performance of European rail infrastructure managers. Invited were French rail regulatory body ARAFER, French RUs / clients of SNCF Réseau, LISEA, French ministry in charge of transportation, SNCF administration, PRIME KPI subgroup members. There were in total around 50 participants and all gave a positive feed-back about the information given and format of the event. Transparency, sharing and communications were a key points during this meeting.

The focus was on costs, quality of service (with intervention of Lisea) and utilisation of network, where the results of SNCF Réseau were presented in comparison to other European IMs. In addition, ProRail, the Dutch rail infrastructure manager shared its benchmarking experience. Stakeholders present had an opportunity to ask questions about PRIME benchmarking.

Presenters were Alain Quinet (PRIME industry co-chair & DGD SNCF Réseau), Maurizio Castelletti (European Commission), Julien Brunel (head of economic studies at SNCF Réseau), Paul Mazataud (Director of International Affairs, SNCF Réseau), Patrick Pressard (Director of Operations , LISEA), Cécile Cheze (Costs analysis unit, SNCF Réseau), Justus Hartkamp (International Affairs, ProRail).

SNCF Reseau presentation


PRIME au service de la performance ferroviaire européenne

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