National and International Energy Billing

Switzerland: good national practice vs. international challenges

“In Switzerland, there is no difference between how we bill national trains versus how we bill international trains,” explains SBB’s Programme Manager for Energy Metering, John Hegarty. “The process in both cases is exactly the same. If the train is metered, then we bill based on the metered data. If the train is not metered, then we use a standard estimate that accounts for the number of kilometres traveled and the weight of the traction unit. These items are then factored into the amount of energy consumed.”

Exchanging of energy data with neighboring countries
When asked about the challenges countries face when it comes to international billing, Mr. Hegarty explains that, “One of the main challenges entails data exchange between the different countries in the EU. Every time a train crosses a border, the infrastructure managers of the countries involved need to exchange all kinds of data with one another. This means having to deal with different data interfaces, which makes the exchange both costly and challenging to run.”

Dealing with metered data and missing energy data
“Another challenge that I often see is that we don’t have a common set of rules in Europe for how metered data is validated and what to do when that data is missing. Every country has their own way of calculating and settling the missing data. And for a train operator trying to understand how each country operates on that front is quite difficult,” Mr. Hegarty explains.

Energy consumed by the correct international train and train journey
“The last common challenge is determining how to allocate the energy consumption of the different trains to their corresponding train runs. This is an issue for both metered and non-metered trains, but it has become a bigger issue for metered trains. To clarify, with metered trains, you have the measurement data coming in from the meter, and then you have to allocate that data to a specific train run or operator. But we don’t always have the associated traction unit EVN (European Vehicle Number) available to connect the data to the corresponding train run. This is especially problematic when it comes to international trains. So, even though we get measurement data from the train, we are sometimes unable to assign it to the responsible party.”

More efficient collaboration among train operators
One final comment Mr. Hegarty has concerns regarding the heavy reliance on regulations and EU norms when it comes to international billing. “I get the impression that a lot of railway players expect the regulations or norms to solve many of the problems I just mentioned. In my opinion, regulation can help but it is not always the best, nor the only solution. In a lot of cases, it would be better for train operators to work together and come up with agreed best practices that are maybe not mandatory but more efficient to implement.”

More complete and standardized network statements
“To give you one example, every infrastructure manager in Europe has a network statement. And while the structure of these network statements are harmonised, for the most part, I think we can take it a step further and include subchapters that are more standardised. This would include things like defining the requirements of energy billing and energy metering from a technical point of view. That, in my opinion, is something that could be agreed upon between the different infrastructure managers to define that standard text so that everyone has it the same in every country. However, this is currently not the case. But this is where Eress can certainly play a role because they have a network of railways partnered with their organisation. It is a good starting point to initiate that kind of common agreement,” he concludes.

Text: Annika Utgaard

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Created Thursday, August 15, 2019


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