RAIL projects have secured nearly 75% of the €5·1bn of funds which the European Commission has allocated to support Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) projects in 2007-13.

Among the largest allocations announced by Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot on November 21 is €786m towards the cost of studies and works for the 63 km Brenner base tunnel project in Austria. Reflecting the Commission's objective of encouraging cross-border links, the Lyon - Torino base tunnel - the French section of which was granted a Declaration of Public Utility on December 7 - receives €671·8m for studies and works, and the rail-road bridge across the Fehmarn Belt €351·6m. The planned high speed line between Spain and Portugal is allocated €312·7m for studies and works on the section from Mérida to Evora.

The Rail Baltica project to improve links between Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland qualifies for grants totalling €124m, while the LGV Rhin-Rhône project (RG 9.07 p543) is allotted €198m. The EuroCaprail scheme to upgrade the route from Brussels to Luxembourg and Strasbourg is granted €57m, and the 44·4 km Perpignan - Figueres line, where the 8·3 km Perthus tunnel was completed on November 23, receives €69·7m.

Easing congestion at rail bottlenecks is another of the Commission's objectives, and projects qualifying for funds include Stuttgart - Ulm (€219·5m) and Karlsruhe - Basel (€94·5m) in Germany, the Nîmes - Montpellier bypass in France (€56·3m), and the Citytunnel project in Malmö (€51·8m).

The Commission has also agreed to support 19 ERTMS projects with funds totalling €271m; 26 projects were rejected, but a second call for proposals for ERTMS schemes is planned in 2009.

The Commission had received applications for €11·5bn towards 221 projects, more than twice the amount available in the TEN-T budget. The proposals have been submitted to the European Parliament and to member states, and the Commission expects to adopt its final project funding decisions early this year.