We consider the problem of determining the capacity of a planned railway infrastructure layout under uncertainties. In order to address the long-term nature of the problem, in which the exact (future) demand of service is unknown, we develop a "timetable"-free approach to avoid the specification of a particular timetable. We consider a generic infra-element that allows a concise representation of many different combinations of infrastructure, safety systems and traffic regimes, such as mixed double and single track lines (e.g., a double track line including a single tunnel tube), and train operations on partly overlapping routes at station yards. We translate the capacity assessment problem for such a generic infra-element into an optimization problem and provide a solution procedure. We illustrate our approach with a capacity assessment for the newly built high-speed railway line in The Netherlands. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.