The problem with slots

Find the gap
Find the gap

Trains require meticulous planning not just when on the move but also when standing still. (Maschen marshalling yard near Hamburg) (19.03.2016, Naturfoto-Online / Alamy Stock Foto)

The term «slot» denotes a journey on a specific track at a specific time by a specific train. Since 1991 it has been not just a logistical unit but also an economic one. When a transport operator acquires a slot, it obtains the right to use a specific stretch of line at a specific time. Since trains run at different speeds and some stop more than others, the number of slots available is limited - and the complexity of planning them infinite. The process of sharing out the increased number of slots made available by the NRLA involves weighing up various needs: the financial viability of the railway, the time constraints on passengers, and keeping traffic flowing constantly.

« A path (comparable to a ‘slot’ in air traffic) is the right to drive a train along a specific stretch of railway at a fixed time. »

Swiss Train Paths Ltd, Swiss Train Paths Ltd brochure, November 2012
14 minutes

time it takes a passenger train to pass through the 57-kilometre Gotthard Base Tunnel at a speed of 250 kilometres per hour.

3 to 6 number of slots per hour

allocated to passenger and goods trains travelling through the Gotthard Base Tunnel in both directions.

230-270 number of rail slots

for north-south goods transport per day.

Share this page