NEXT YEAR will see eight countries in Central and Eastern Europe joining of the European Union, along with Malta and Cyprus. With this in mind, the European Commission announced proposals on October 1 that envisage extension of the Trans-European Transport Network into Eastern Europe, so helping to cement the accession countries into the union.

The TEN-T concept dates back to the ’Essen strategy’ of 1994. Then, as now, much emphasis was placed on improvements to existing rail corridors and construction of new lines - reflecting a widely-held view that huge sums of money have been spent on motorways in the last three decades, and that rail should now benefit in similar measure. However, only three of the 14 original projects have been completed.

The latest TEN-T proposals are based on a study by former Transport Commissioner Karel van Miert published earlier this year (RG 9.03 p473). Additional rail routes for completion between 2010 and 2015 include extension of the Lyon - Trieste corridor east to the Ukrainian border via Ljubljana and Budapest, with a branch from Divaca to Koper; a north-south corridor from Athens to Nürnberg and Dresden via Kulata, Sofia and the Vidin - Calafat link into Romania; Budapest - Curtici - Arad - Brasov; and Gdansk - Wien via Warszawa, Katowice, Brno and Breclav, with a parallel route south from Katowice to Bratislava via Zilina and Nove Mesto n