The competitiveness of the railways is determined by the performances and profitability of the railway transport in the near future. The railway network of the century, as we might call it, through its new components - namely: restructuring, standardization, separation of traffic, elimination of constraints, commissioning of new technologies and exploitation of traffic potential - provides, as a result of the reform, a surplus rail traffic.
The railway network has a target program with clear, well-defined objectives and strategies for the current period of modernization and development. This broad-based program needs to be constantly reviewed and provided a basis for developing short-, medium-, and long-term development plans with quantifiable objectives.
The competitiveness of the railways is determined by the performances and profitability of the railway transport in the near future. The railway network of the century, as we might call it, through its new components - namely: restructuring, standardization, separation of traffic, elimination of constraints, commissioning of new technologies and exploitation of traffic potential - provides, as a result of the reform, a surplus rail traffic. As we all know, currently the priority of the Romanian Railways is to implement the reform program, which provides drastic restructuring plans to win the "bet" with the competition, in order to attract the support of the state administration, and ensure profit guarantee for private entrepreneurs. These process modernizations ensure the resettlement of the activity on a new, competitive basis, in that the railway contractors have convenient and attractive financial offers in order to determine as many customers as possible to resort to the railway. The entrepreneur also has the essential task of ordering the goals of transport and environmental policy in order to ensure increased mobility for passengers and goods through a more environmentally friendly transport system. But the railway reform does not only mean changing the commercial framework of the activity of this sector. Through the external transformations imposed by the authorities, the railway network receives a new organizational and management structure. The success of these programs means the chance to have, at the European level, strong and economically stable railway companies. If no action is taken to direct a real renewal, additional, unforeseen debts may arise. The perspective of these companies imposes a new path towards the future: in order for them to follow a market-oriented path, these structural changes, as well as important investment volumes, are urgently needed. Currently, it should be taken into account that in Romania only about 70% of the total railway capacity is used, for a quarter of the network. Most of the time, mixed transports are performed, with slow passenger and freight trains, the necessary overtaking being obtained by constraint, by using additional lines, so as to reduce the travel time for the passenger and freight railway transport. Our railway network currently has overcapacity in its vast field; however, many constraints and shortcomings are to be overcome, so imposing rail transport on the market is inevitably expensive. More than three-quarters of the total costs of the network are railway costs, which means 50% for maintenance, 30% for operation coordination and 20% for operation management. No wonder for a railway network that in terms of volume of activity is in fourth place in Europe and has a complex structure, comprising 22,250 km of lines, 24,250 interchanges, 1,100 level crossings, 1,050 stations and stops, 18,760 bridges and footbridges and 211 tunnels. In order to overcome the difficulties faced by the cost structure of the network and to capitalize on its most important advantage - that it records the lowest degree of environmental pollution compared to other means of transport, the railway, located in decline, it is clear that it must raise its competitive market level. The railway network of the future - or the network of the century, as we have called it -, through the already known programs started, is directed towards an orientation towards performance, security, comfort and low costs for the development of the network in perspective. In this sense, it is possible to make, for the first time, a complete evaluation of all the necessary investments for the infrastructure, being especially targeted the investments in the way. Future objectives aim to increase the volume of rail transport in line with the facilities offered by the transport capacity of the competition and a high layout of facilities, greater long-term traffic safety and, of course, lower network operating costs to offset taxes. legal and taxes, as well as the liquidation of old loans.
Regarding the transposition into the life of the objectives of the network of the century, we try, in parallel, to outline and solve the main existing problems. Currently, the fundamental strategic objective of the Romanian Railways is, as I wrote in other articles in our magazine, the integration of the CFR network within the railway network in the European Union by focusing on technical harmonization and ensuring interoperability. The context in which it is necessary, of course, to promote national interests by developing railway transport corridors in accordance with Romania's needs. As the necessary development cannot be financially supported only from internal resources, it is necessary to apply a policy of attracting external financing
The general strategic objective of the railway transport system is to support the restructuring and modification of the CFR network to ensure increased mobility. Definitely, it refers to both passenger and freight transport, aiming to achieve safe and comfortable travel conditions for domestic and international traffic, creating a rail link for all localities in the country and even those in isolated areas. Also, in this chapter, we can talk about priority strategic objectives, which include: stopping the technical and operational deterioration of the transport system, rehabilitation and modernization of transport, alignment with market requirements (speed, elasticity, comfort, traffic safety and environmental protection ), as well as the connection of the national railway transport system to the European requirements. The strategy for rehabilitation and modernization of the railway infrastructure must include the association of both types of works, so that along with the rehabilitation of the road, modernization works will be executed, to improve the technical parameters. Without a railway infrastructure brought to superior parameters and which would satisfy the requirements of the European agreements to which Romania is a party, it is not possible to conceive quality and safe railway services. In their absence and in the conditions of the existence of a single, centralized market, international passenger and freight transport will choose other routes, thus reducing the traffic and market support capacity of any domestic operator, which will have adverse effects on the entire national economy. , by drastically reducing the transport offer. As a conclusion of the above, it can be stated that only a firm, fast and sustained commitment to modernize the railway network can lead to avoiding the risk elements that exist in the perspective of developing the integrated rail transport market in Europe, as well as delaying integration. European Union. The development strategy of the century network is based on its own forecast, on the knowledge of the realities of transport development in the perspective of the first decade of the new century. In addition, clear decisions and commitments to open investment financing must become a key objective. The current changes planned for the transport infrastructure and the range of services require the provision of priority investments - which are currently quite limited - in relation to the strategy and objectives of the network of the century. The key question that most connoisseurs of this field will ask themselves will refer to the distribution of investments so that the railway network can obtain, in the long run, the best results. An optimal project integrated into the railway network requires at the same time an evaluation of the measures necessary for its transposition into practice, in order to achieve a safer and more efficient network. In the classic network development plan, there are several stages that will be performed by external entrepreneurs. Through the project of European integration of our railway network, it is, lately, in the situation to be able to recover the stagnation caused by the planning, even for the short-term situations. But the result is equivocal. Optimal effects in the network can be obtained best through programs with small investments, on existing lines and in truly strategic places. Punctual construction programs and final changes in the existing network are becoming, for this reason, of increasing importance, especially for new lines. Essential for the future of the railway remains the way in which the programs will be fulfilled in correlation with the goals and commitments of the network of the century.
According to current data, compared to other modes of transport, the availability of railway lines has higher costs due to their unsubsidized operation and maintenance. The separation of transports and the harmonization of traffic speeds have in view the achievement of a reduction of the current operating costs, as a whole. The network of the century aims, in fact, to orient the investments for three-quarters of the railway network, but also to develop it in order to satisfy the clients' requirements as much as possible. The transposition of the new structure and of the norms of the network is carried out by separating and harmonizing them in detail plans, by great transparency, as well as by a permanent optimization of the costs from the existing network. All these together result in the separation of activities, increasing the efficiency of investments and optimizing the existing network. By transposing these provisions into life, a 5% increase in the speed of circulation on the network is expected, increasing safety and quality in operation, reducing general and special costs, as well as costs for replacement investments, going so far as to the energy cost for railway transport is also clarified.
A first step in carrying out strategic programs can be considered detachment from the old management. Intensive maintenance, increased safety, renewed routes based on the unique interoperability system and the use of modern technologies in traffic management, all this is possible by taking into account the increasing demand for investment in the current network for the next ten years. However, the 15-20% expansion of capacity on the priority network is clearly expected, compared to the existing one, thus achieving an additional expansion of the offer and, of course, the reduction of operation and maintenance costs
Consequently, the railway network of the country is modernized and developed through a perspective program that includes three stages: I - maintaining and optimizing the existing network; II - application of modern traffic management and safety measures; III - ensuring new lines, with a higher effect on the network. The timing of these stages is correlated with the program of the network of the century. We can thus appreciate that the network of the century represents a new orientation in the planning of the modernization and development of the network of existing railway lines. It is also a method of carefully following the investment plan and strategy, which ensures efficient use of investment means and guarantees greater development effects on the current infrastructure. In order to produce in full the actions included under the "emblem" of the network of the century, in the realization calculations, it was considered, first of all, the transposition of the strategy for the pan-European railway transport corridors, because only in this way realization for this great program. We can, therefore, appreciate that the investment funds allocated for the modernization of the existing network will lead to the transformation of the current railway into a real network of the century, through which rail transport will be among the first areas of the Romanian economy to align with the required standards. by the European Union.
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