EU nine transport corridors map

EUROPE: Rail sector representatives have welcomed the European Commission’s proposals for a revision of the trans-European transport network regulation, with the aim of improving the passenger network, setting more ambitious technical standards and providing better multimodal integration. However, they have cautioned that bringing forward deadlines would require additional funding.

The TEN-T revision proposals announced by the European Commission on December 14 which directly impact rail include:

  • bringing forward delivery of the ‘core’ network to 2030, with an ‘extended core’ network to be completed by a new intermediary deadline of 2040 and the ‘comprehensive’ network by 2050;
  • the creation of nine multimodal European Transport Corridors by integrating the former Core Network Corridors with the Rail Freight Corridors;
  • specifying a minimum line speed of 160 km/h for passenger services on the core and extended core networks, and 100 km/h for freight;
  • emphasising first and last mile connectivity through multimodal passenger hubs in all EU cities above 100 000 inhabitants that are connected to the TEN-T network;
  • strengthening air-rail connectivity for all EU airports on the core network and those handling more than 4 million passengers, and promoting air-rail multimodal journeys on suitable routes;
  • maximum waiting times at borders of 15 min for freight trains;
  • making it possible for lorries to be transported by train ‘network-wide’;
  • increased resilience of the network to natural and human-made disasters.

The TEN-T network would be completed in three steps, starting in 2030 with the completion of the core network to existing TEN-T standards such as electrification and the ability to run 740 m trains.

By 2040 the extended core network would be completed to the proposed higher standards, with ERTMS deployed on the entire TEN-T network and legacy national systems being removed. This 2040 deadline has been added to accelerate completion of the Single European Railway Area to help reach the EU’s 2050 climate ambitions. Specific routes cited by the commission include the Porto – Vigo and Budapest – București high speed corridors.

The entire TEN-T network would be completed by 2050, including the sections within the comprehensive network.

Responding to the announcement, the Community of European Railway & Infrastructure Companies, EIM representing European infrastructure managers and UNIFE on behalf of the supply chain, said revision of the TEN-T Regulation was ‘timely and necessary to achieve the European Green Deal’s ambitious climate targets’.

The industry organisations said they supported the intermediary 2040 deadline and the new extended core network. However, they warned that ‘stable and significant’ funding would be needed to complete ongoing TEN-T projects, and that meeting the new targets would require additional funding.

CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola said the revision ‘opens the door to unleashing rail’s full potential as the most sustainable transport mode, but that does not come without costs and challenges’. He suggested that it was ‘important to make the best use of revenues from the EU Emissions Trading System to finance rail TEN-T investments’.

Recognising ‘the huge investments needed’, UNIFE Director General Philippe Citroën added that ‘it is imperative to provide smart synergies between EU funding programmes such as CEF, the Recovery Funding and the EU Structural Funds’.