Basically, an applicant is a railway undertaking which can request basic and ancillary services. For rail freight there are additional foreseen a grouping of railway undertakings or other persons or legal entities, such as shippers, freight forwarders and combined transport operators, with a commercial interest in procuring infrastructure capacity.

The impossibility of satisfying two or more mutually exclusive applications for train paths.

Important international routes for cross-border rail freight traffic.

In 1996, the European Union decided to establish a coherent, interoperable European transport network, including corridors for rail and intermodal transport. The two freight corridors Rhine–Alpine and North Sea–Mediterranean are of particular relevance to Switzerland. The rail corridors are to be equipped with the standard European train protection and control system ERTMS.

Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 concerning a European rail network for competitive freight has been in force in the European Union since 9 November 2010. It introduced additional procedures to strengthen cooperation between infrastructure managers and capacity allocation bodies on the allocation of international paths for freight trains.

A process to resolve a conflict between applications. The train path allocation body and the infrastructure managers in question look jointly with the railway undertakings involved for reasonable alternative train paths.

Contract between a railway undertaking and an infrastructure manager. The infrastructure manager guarantees the railway undertaking capacity over and above one timetable year; the railway undertaking undertakes to apply for this capacity. The capacity does not consist of precisely defined train paths but rather the guarantee to receive offers of train paths within a time band to be agreed.

A train path (comparable to a slot for airlines) is the right to run a train defined in terms of its weight, length and loading gauge over a particular section of the rail network at a given time.

“Train path application” means an application for a train path submitted by a railway undertaking or an authorised third party either on the second Monday in April of the relevant year as part of the annual timetable process or an application for an ad-hoc path made during the year.

The inventory of pre-constructed paths for freight traffic on the North-South Gotthard and Lötschberg-Simplon axis which is published with effect from the second Monday in January as a catalogue from which paths can be chosen.

Simultaneously and as a consequence of the implementation of Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 an international path catalogue will be published. It will contain special paths which have been agreed internationally and which are protected from being used for other purposes.

Ancillary services are services offered by infrastructure managers over and above the use of a train path which a railway undertaking may request. Examples are stabling of trains or shunting in marshalling yards.