Freight trains in Slovakia.

EUROPE: A joint declaration designed to facilitate the elimination of bottlenecks affecting international freight traffic on the Orient/East-Med Rail Freight Corridor was signed by transport ministers from eight EU countries during the TEN-T Days conference in Rotterdam on June 21.

The Orient/East-Med corridor starts at the ports of northern Germany and runs through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria to the southern coast of Greece.

The action plans covers a reduction in waiting times at border crossings, improved punctuality, reduced average transit times and the sharing of examples of best practice.

An in-depth analysis of technical, operational and administrative rules which lead to delays at borders is to be completed by the end of December, with the aim of reducing the average border crossing time to a maximum of 2 h of waiting by July 2018. The study will look at optimising locomotive availability at border crossings where technical requirements make a change of locomotive necessary, and at avoiding duplicated technical or administrative controls wherever possible.

The ministers said corridor capacity needs to be protected as much as possible, and deadlines for reserving capacity should be shortened ‘in a market-oriented way’. Capacity restrictions should be planned in advance, multi-annual investment plans must be transparent, and delays to infrastructure works need to be avoided.