EUROPE: Major EU transport infrastructure projects should focus on sustainable transport, avoid delays, improve links with Ukraine and Moldova and make provision for military transport, according to the European Parliament’s Transport & Tourism Committee.
On April 13, the TRAN Committee formally adopted its position on the European Commission’s proposal for the revision of the Trans-European Transport Network regulation. The committee calls for unified technical and operational standards for each mode of transport, and says intermodal transport should be primarily done by rail, inland waterway or short-sea shipping, with road for the first and last mile.
A more capable network
It wants to see all railways in the core TEN-T network electrified and suitable for at least 160 km/h passenger and 100 km/h freight operation, with intra-EU border crossings requiring less than 15 min by the end of 2030.
The MEPs said that EU funding should be conditional on member states adopting sustainable urban mobility plans by the end of 2025, integrating different modes, including active travel.
MEPs backed plans for major transport infrastructure projects on the core TEN-T network to be completed by the end of 2030, and by the end of 2050 on the Comprehensive Network. To incentivise a quick roll-out, MEPs support the introduction of an intermediary deadline of 2040.
In the event of a significant delay, the MEPs suggested the European Commission should immediately launch an infringement procedure and reduce or terminate funding.
Third countries and military mobility
The Transport Committee backed cutting transport infrastructure projects involving Russia and Belarus following the war against Ukraine, and instead it wants to see enhanced links with Ukraine and Moldova.
The MEPs also wanted EU governments to exclude non-EU businesses from participating in major TEN-T projects if the Commission deems them to be a security risk.
The committee recommended that EU countries should plan for the seamless transfer of military troops and equipment within the EU when constructing or upgrading TEN-T infrastructure. Within one year after the new rules enter into force, the Commission should conduct a study on short-notice large-scale military movements.
‘Everybody is talking about shifting transport to rail’, said Co-rapporteur Barbara Thaler. ’However, while cars, trucks or planes can cross EU borders without any problems, trains, especially cargo ones, are forced to stop at borders, sometimes for hours, to adapt to the requirements of different member states.
‘That is why it is particularly important to ensure that rail border crossings should take no more than 15 min, and there should also be slots for freight trains allocated across borders. It is ambitious, but necessary if we want to succeed in shifting traffic from road to rail.’
Commenting on the Committee’s position, the Community of European Railway & Infrastructure Companies said it supports most of the plans, including deadlines for ERTMS deployment. It would like to see additional funding for ETCS roll-out, strengthening multimodal rail connections, high speed connections between major cities and a proposal to reinforce network resilience.
However, CER warned that any move to adopt a single EU language for rail would ‘require billions of euros in investment and training for both drivers and infrastructure managers’, disadvantage rail against other modes, and ‘increase safety risks’.
CER said traffic management must remain in the hands of infrastructure managers, and while digital capacity management is necessary, it ‘must not be delegated to the EU Agency for Railways as this will hamper the process.’