The REORIENT project assessed the process of transforming the European railways from nationally fragmented into internationally integrated rail operating systems as a consequence of the EC interoperability legislation. By so doing, it supported the EU policy of balancing modal split between road and rail freight transport.

The research framework of REORIENT took the external driving forces as premises for changes that would happen with or without EC-legislation. It distinguished between changes brought about through the EC legislation and areas that, though they might be important, are not affected by the policies. The main focus was that that EU railway directives are implemented into the national institutional and legal frameworks, resulting in market opening. This has consequences for the rail freight transport system with its links, terminals, border-crossings and rolling stock. The vertical dimension was explored by means of country-studies, where the focus was on how each country adapts to the global economy, newly introduced EC-legislation, and the resulting market response. The relationship between the legislation and market behaviour was explored. The horizontal dimension of the markets, the routes, border crossings, terminals and transfer points are no less important. Analyses of the market opportunities with in the REORIENT Corridor, and the service requirements that must be fulfilled to attract freight was analysed. Moreover new service concepts were developed. New business models were explored. Here, US-experience with respect to the driving forces for change in the rail freight industry has been important. That experience formed the basis for European studies contrasting the US scene with the changes in Europe. The barriers to increased freight volumes have been identified and the potential impact of barrier removal assessed. An evaluation framework for studying the various impacts of new rail services and barrier reductions was described.

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