Issue n° 164 - 21 February 2014

Mobility and transport

In the spotlight

Railroad tracks

Major industry commitment to EU rail research initiative

Global leaders in railway technology have confirmed their commitment to the European Commission's recently announced Shift2Rail initiative. On 19 February 2014, major European companies attended a conference in Athens to discuss how they can contribute to the ambitious objectives of Shift2Rail. This €920 million public-private partnership aims to accelerate the market take up of innovative solutions in the rail sector, making passenger and freight rail transport more attractive to users and slashing costs to the benefit of public purses.

Read the full article

21 February 2014

Global leaders in railway technology have confirmed their commitment to the European Commission's recently announced Shift2Rail initiative. On 19 February 2014, major European companies attended a conference in Athens to discuss how they can contribute to the ambitious objectives of Shift2Rail. This €920 million public-private partnership aims to accelerate the market take up of innovative solutions in the rail sector, making passenger and freight rail transport more attractive to users and slashing costs to the benefit of public purses.

The conference was hosted by the Greek Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks and comes as the Commission has announced its intention to triple funding for rail research and innovation to €450 million (2014-2020), compared to €155 million in the previous period, as part of the Shift2Rail initiative.

Eight companies have individually pledged to contribute at least €30 million of own funds to Shift2Rail. Apart from Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens, these companies include rail equipment manufacturers Ansaldo STS, Thales and CAF, as well as infrastructure managers Trafikverket and Network Rail.

Alongside these companies, many smaller and medium sized companies, but also research institutes and academics, as well as railway undertakings and infrastructure managers were present in Athens to voice their support for the initiative and discuss how they can contribute to Shift2Rail.

The first projects under Shift2Rail are expected to be launched in 2015.

What is Shift2 Rail?

"Shift2Rail" is an ambitious public-private partnership which will manage a 7-year work programme of targeted research and innovation to drastically improve the quality and efficiency of rail services in Europe. It will develop and accelerate the bringing to market of technological breakthroughs critical to delivering the Single European Railway Area and to supporting the competitiveness of the rail sector as a whole, creating jobs and boosting exports.

Shift2Rail aims to deliver: a reduction, by up to 50%, in the life-cycle cost of railway transport (i.e. costs of building, operating, maintaining and renewing infrastructure and rolling stock); an overall increase in capacity of up to 100%; and an overall increase in reliability of up to 50% in the different rail market segments.

The research and innovation will focus on five key areas:

  1. To improve the quality of services – it will focus on developing a new generation of high capacity trains which are cost-efficient and reliable;
  2. To increase capacity and get more trains running on the same lines – it will develop better intelligent traffic management and control systems;
  3. To provide reliable, high quality, infrastructure, including reducing track noise, cutting costs and developing intelligent maintenance;
  4. To provide integrated ticketing and journey planners – it will develop innovative IT solutions and services;
  5. To allow rail to compete effectively in more markets – it will develop better logistics and inter-modal freight solutions, so rail can connect better with other forms of transport.

More news

February infringements package: Reasoned opinions in rail and maritime transport

20 February 2014

European Commission urges Austria and Spain towards more transparency in its financing for rail

The European Commission is concerned that Austria and Spain should ensure full transparency on the separation of accounts in rail, as it is required by Directive 2012/34/EU. One of the main purposes of the EU rules is to ensure transparency in the use of public funds for public transport services, so that transport service providers may compete on an equal footing to the benefit of end users.

To date, contrary to EU provisions, these two countries do not ensure full transparency in the presentation of the accounts of railway undertakings mainly as far as public funds paid for services under public service obligations are concerned. Keeping transparent accounts is the only way to identify how public money is spent and whether it is used for other purposes then the ones foreseen. Indeed, the current arrangements in Austria and Spain do not exclude that public funds paid as public service obligations dedicated to passenger transport services are used to cross subsidise other transport services.

Since this is contrary to existing EU rules, which aim at establishing an efficient, non-distorted and competitive EU internal market for rail, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Austria and Spain. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Maritime security: Commission requests Spain to correctly implement measures to improve the security of its ports

The European Commission has sent a formal request to Spain to ask for the correct application of the Directive on enhancing port security (2005/65/EC) in all Spanish ports concerned by the Directive. The main objective of the Directive is to introduce common measures to enhance port security in the face of threats of security incidents. Many Spanish ports have not yet adopted and implemented the assessments and port security plans that are provided for by the Directive. This Directive, which is a fundamental policy instrument for maritime security, aims to ensure a high and equal level of security for both passengers and cargo in all European ports.

Single European Rail: Commission requests Romania to impose fair infrastructure charges and ensure the financial sustainability of its infrastructure manager

The European Commission is concerned about the financial equilibrium of the main Romanian infrastructure manager in the years to come. Romania's rail network is one of the largest in the European Union and charges for freight trains are among the highest in Europe. The rail network incurred significant deficits increasing year on year while larger parts of the network were not maintained in good condition. At the same time, the infrastructure manager lacks the incentives to reduce costs and charges. However, the Single European Railway Area Directive requires Member States to ensure the financial equilibrium of the infrastructure manager with effective incentives to reduce costs and charges. What is more, whilst all main rail corridors of Romania are electrified, diesel pulled trains have to contribute to the financing of electric equipment on the track side at the same level as electric trains. Since the EU directive limits charges to the direct costs of the train service, the Commission asks Romania not to impose such charges on diesel trains.

Commissioner's corner

The Sea of Europe: Routing the map for economic growth

"While all transport sectors have their specific issues to address, I believe that focusing on quality, innovation and sustainability will make sure that everyone comes out as winners. EU research funding will help that to happen."

Siim Kallas

Read the full speech.

Thessaloniki, 17 February 2014

Ministers, ladies and gentlemen

It is a pleasure to be back in Greece. Thank you for inviting me to Thessaloniki today to speak at this EU Presidency summit.

Today’s theme fits in very well with my priorities as European Transport Commissioner. The overriding aim has been to make the most and best use of transport, which is fundamental to the wider European economy.

We’ve been doing our best to achieve that by building a single European transport area.

It has often been a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle: fitting the right pieces in the right places to make a coherent whole. It’s also a long process – Europe is a big jigsaw, after all - and won’t be finished for some time.

We have already made a great deal of progress by setting the main changes in motion so that everyone in Europe will benefit: businesses and citizens.

I often say that transport plays an essential role in Europe’s ongoing economic recovery, because it underpins exports and competitiveness. It stimulates economic growth and helps to create employment.

Given that more than 70% of the goods exported or imported to the EU and from the rest of the world go by sea, this is especially true of shipping – where there are several challenges ahead: the need for new and cleaner fuels, for safe and efficient ships and high-performing ports, just to name a few.

We need a top-quality shipping sector that can compete internationally, based on world-class safety records with high social and environmental standards. It has to be properly linked with other forms of transport – like road and rail - within a truly European network.

Now, there is the chance to make a real difference: by building that network to shape Europe’s transport system for the next 10 to 20 years.

The revised policy for the Trans-European Transport Network, especially its concept of integrated transport corridors, will be the future of EU transport.

I would like to thank rapporteurs Koumoutsakos and Ertug for their significant contribution in steering this legislation through the European Parliament.

To make sure that the new TEN-T becomes a reality, it is backed up by hard cash. This is a real transport ‘first’: dedicated infrastructure financing, in the form of the Connecting Europe Facility.

Without this funding, I believe that many major cross-border transport links would simply not be started, let alone completed.

The policy focus has shifted from individual projects onto a core network of nine strategic corridors. They will join North and South, East and West and all corners of a vast geographical area – from Greece to Finland, from the shores of the Black Sea and Mediterranean to the Atlantic.

These corridors are the backbone of the new TEN-T and will improve its overall reliability and efficiency:

- they are the basis for integrating different forms of transport, ensuring technical compatibility and the coordinated development and management of infrastructure;

- they will allow investments and infrastructure work to be synchronised;

- they are the EU’s added value.

Greece has one corridor crossing its territory: the Orient/East-Med corridor, which connects the North, Baltic, Black and Mediterranean Seas. It starts and ends in ports, running from northern Europe and using the Motorways of the Sea concept to develop a maritime link from Greece to Cyprus.

The European Commission has played its part to set aside funding in the budget. As with all the corridors, it is now up to Member States to work together and start building. The focus is to set project priorities to get the funding required.

Since the list of potential projects is long, they should think hard about priorities. Competition for CEF money will be tough – and it’s clear there won’t be enough resources to accommodate and finance every project.

In Greece’s case, CEF support is most likely to be focused on projects to improve rail infrastructure and road connections with neighbouring countries.

And of course, we cannot forget Greece’s ports, which have considerable importance for the single European transport area. There are five Greek ports in the new core network, including Thessaloniki and also Piraeus – which is also part of the Orient/East-Med corridor that I mentioned earlier.

CEF funds could help improve port infrastructure and surrounding links to road and rail systems, provide cleaner technologies and fuels, and develop local port connections to other EU and world ports via the Motorways of the Sea project.

Ladies and gentlemen: I cannot stress enough how vital ports are for the single European transport area. They are the entry and exit points for most of EU trade.

If ports don’t perform well, if rail access is poor, or if there are no smooth onward shipping links, there is a direct – a negative - impact on the cross-continent supply chain.

Our continent depends on ports that perform well. Europe not only needs to connect its ports better to road, rail and inland waterway systems, but also make sure that their capacity is used properly.

Our proposed review of EU ports policy is all about achieving these goals: by promoting a more open business environment and raising port performance across Europe.

It aims to guarantee equal conditions for competition – no matter how well each port performs – as well as legal certainty for all involved. This will help us to modernise port services, allowing access to the market in a transparent and non-discriminatory way, and attracting much-needed investment.

I am confident that our proposals will have the positive on effect of promoting competitive global and regional shipping, and making sure that European shipping stays a leader in the world maritime industry - with Greece at the top.

If Europe’s ports become more competitive, this will encourage more use of short sea shipping in all EU maritime regions. Given the EU’s geography, this is often a good alternative to using trucks to carry freight on many routes.

Today, around 37% of goods by volume that are unloaded in EU ports are brought by short sea shipping services, which are relatively clean and fuel-efficient compared with trucks, for example.

But there is a good deal of unused capacity, partly because operators are deterred by heavy red tape – especially customs. This is why we launched the Blue Belt concept, to reduce the costs and delays that can make maritime transport less attractive for moving goods within the EU internal market.

Ladies and gentlemen

Raising efficiency goes hand-in-hand with the need to minimise environmental impacts and decarbonise our transport system. While shipping is one of the most carbon-efficient forms of transport, it still produces 3% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions and 4% of total EU emissions.

This is why we have identified liquefied natural gas as a cleaner - and potentially cheaper - fuel for shipping. LNG is now firmly on the agenda for the entire European shipping community.

In Europe, we are investing significant amounts into research and development, especially in clean energy innovation, including LNG.

I am pleased to see much more funding for transport research and development in the Horizon 2020 programme, which has a focus on resource-efficient, seamless and competitive transport.

If we are to see more uptake of LNG, there has to be certainty about fuel supply. With the Clean Power for Transport initiative, I have proposed that all core network maritime ports have fuelling services for LNG by 2020, along with common standards for its use and supply.

However, I am concerned about attempts being made to delay this deadline by five - or even 10 – years, especially since 2020 will see low-sulphur fuels in force in all waters. Energy companies tell us that they see a business case. Investment is limited, the technology is available. Let’s get this done.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions can also help to reduce Europe’s fuel bill – your fuel bill. But to do so, we need to measure shipping emissions better, which is why the Commission has proposed introducing a system to monitor, report and verify emissions from large ships.

We are taking two parallel approaches: an EU-level proposal that is now being discussed in Council and Parliament, and a submission to the IMO, coordinated with our international partners.

They are a first contribution towards building an international system for an energy-efficient shipping sector. This is a historic change: it brings the shipping industry together with EU and non-EU countries to tackle a truly global issue.

Ladies and gentlemen

With the new TEN-T and Connecting Europe Facility, European transport now has the right strategies, policies and legal environment in place to face the challenges ahead.

And there are many: the fight against climate change, the need to reduce congestion, to modernise and integrate infrastructure.

These are just a few challenges in a long list.

Each transport sector, whether it be rail, road or maritime, will have to prepare for the future. I hope that I have given you a good description of what we are already doing to help European shipping, for example.

While all transport sectors have their specific issues to address, I believe that focusing on quality, innovation and sustainability will make sure that everyone comes out as winners. EU research funding will help that to happen.

After all, transport should be seen as investment in our future growth, for all Europeans – businesses and individuals.

It does not, and should not, stop at national borders.

That is what EU transport policy is all about.

Thank you for your attention.

Figure of the month

8 billion

Around 8 billion passenger trips are made by rail each year.

We were asked about...

Question asked by Vladko Todorov Panayotov (ALDE)

(7 January 2014)

Subject: TEN-T projects and cross-border connections cooperation

The building of the two-lane road from the town of Rudozem to the Greek border (approximately 9 km as well) was co-financed by the ISPA pre-accession financial instrument. This road ends at the Greek border and requires a 9 km vertical axis on the Greek side to connect it to the Greek road and motorway network.

What can the Commission do to enable this project, which is small but strategically important in terms of territorial cohesion, to be completed? The EU co-financing on the Bulgarian side has no added value whatsoever if the road from Rudozem to the Greek border is not continued to connect the Bulgarian municipality with its neighbouring municipality in Greece. Can the Commission provide assistance to Greece through the territorial cooperation instruments to construct this project? Are there any other means to enable this road to be constructed?

Read the answer

Answer given by Mr Kallas on behalf of the Commission

The Connecting Europe Facility focuses mainly on sustainable transport modes and the TEN-T core network, with limited funding possibilities for a project connecting the road from the Bulgarian border to the Greek road network. Such a project would however be eligible under the Cohesion Policy and within the territorial cooperation instruments. The Commission is aware that the Greek side is preparing studies for the aforementioned stretch of road, which has been recently included in the Trans-European Networks.

The cross-border cooperation programmes may provide support to removing bottlenecks in key infrastructure by investing in the TEN-T, provided Greece and Bulgaria agree to select this thematic objective for their cooperation programme.

As far as other means are concerned, both European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund could in theory support such investments if the following basic requirements are fulfilled:

  • the Comprehensive Transport Master Plan should serve as a basis for the choice of transport investment priorities.
  • all investments should fit into the territorial development strategy set out in the operational programme, and contribute to delivering the objectives for the priority axis concerned,
  • Investments should be underpinned by plausible results of the feasibility study and positive Cost/Benefit Analysis.

Transport and You


3-6 March 2014

SESAR events at 2014 World ATM Congress, Madrid

11 March 2014

Financial support for innovative SME's in transport - Information Day

20 March 2014

Infravation 2014 Call joint information and brokerage day

27 March 2014

Save the date: Transport Business Summit 2014 - Transport – Driving Europe’s Economy

27 March 2014, Brussels, Belgium

Reduced cost, greater flexibility, better access to markets and more sustainable technologies: European transport policy has improved in many ways to create new opportunities for business. The second Transport Business Summit will bring together business leaders and decision-makers to discuss how transport can contribute to Europe’s goals for jobs and growth.

Hosted by the European Commission, Vice-President Siim Kallas and the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, the conference will feature Mario Monti, former Prime Minister of Italy as the keynote speaker as well as prominent transport industry panelists.

More information will come shortly, but be sure to block your agendas today!

We look forward to seeing you in Brussels. Further details, including conference registration instructions, will follow soon. Feel free to contact Cecoforma who is organising the Transport Business Summit on behalf of the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport at:


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