Infrastructure - TEN-T - Connecting Europe
Towards corridor work plans
The TEN-T Guidelines foresee that each European Coordinator, for the core network corridor under his/her respective responsibility, has to draw up a work plan which resumes the current state of infrastructure along this corridor and sets out the challenges for future infrastructure development. Following approval by the Member States directly concerned - expected for Spring 2015 - these work plans will be submitted to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, and they will become available for the public at large.
The work plans, once approved, will guide the development of the corridors in the short and longer term. Their time horizon is 2030, in accordance with the completion target of the core network. They integrate the objectives and priorities of EU funding during the 2014 – 2020 period, but they go far beyond this. They set the framework for investment in transport infrastructure - from public and private, European and national sources. They lead the way for concentrated implementation efforts to contribute to the key objectives of the trans-European transport networks policy:
- Strengthening the basis for trade flows and citizens' mobility within the Union and with external markets;
- Reinforcing territorial, social and economic Cohesion in the Union;
- Enhancing the infrastructure basis for an efficient and sustainable mobility system which stands for future-oriented and high-quality transport services for passengers and freight.
Corridor studies to prepare the ground
The beginning of 2014 marked a new era in TEN-T policy, and the Commission's action during the year largely focused on the preparation of the work plans. The European Coordinators, nominated in the begining of the year, purposefully worked towards the first major milestone of their mandates: the completion of the work plans. To this end, they closely cooperated with the newly created corridor fora, met Transport Ministers and high-ranking industrial leaders, initiated cross-border dialogue on key projects and gathered various information on the spot of projects.
On behalf of the European Commission, nine external consultants' teams spent the full year to undertake comprehensive corridor studies. These study activities - benefiting from close interaction with the corridor fora led by the European Coordinators – constitute the main basis for the work plans. They include detailed analyses of corridor features and identify the action needed to bring the corridors up to the required quality and capacity standards. They study all nine corridors in a homogenous way, thereby allowing for a coherent identification of action for corridor development. The nine corridor studies are now completed. On 22 December 2014, each European Coordinator formally submitted a work plan based on these studies under his/her responsibility to the Transport Ministers of the Member States directly concerned.
As main elements, the corridor studies comprise:
a) A detailed definition of the alignment of the corridors
The corridors represent a substantial part of the TEN-T core network. Therefore, in line with the structure of the core network, corridors include all transport modes – railway lines for passengers and freight, roads, inland waterways, ports, airports and rail-road terminals. This also entails a range of infrastructure standards – aiming inter alia at coherent and interoperable equipment for the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and traffic management systems in other modes, common safety parameters, provisions for new technologies (especially low carbon solutions) or requirements to facilitate intermodal transport. As part of a full-scale network, corridors also integrate urban nodes.
A detailed definition of the corridor alignment, carried out as the first major element of the studies, has meant: determining precisely the routes, transport nodes and their access links, TEN-T connections in urban nodes or correlations with rail freight corridors. This has been done in close cooperation with the Member States concerned and with the relevant infrastructure managers who participated in the corridor fora. All relevant data have been encoded in the EU-wide information system for the trans-European transport network TENtec. This work led to a clear and commonly agreed infrastructure basis and determines both the existing and planned infrastructure underlying the TEN-T Guidelines.
b) A market analysis
Carrying out a market analysis for multi-modal corridors of several thousand kilometres of length, within a few months' time, has been a unique challenge for the experts' teams. Their approaches largely depended on the access to data, the availability of partial results or on relevant modelling resources. The analyses have essentially been able to forecast transport trends along the corridors for the different modes until 2030, to spot bottlenecks under different infrastructure development scenarios and to indicate the impact of TEN-T completion – for example in terms of modal shift prospects.
c) Identification of critical issues and corridor development objectives
Market analysis and interaction with the corridor fora made it possible to gain a sound overview of the critical issues which hamper traffic flows along the corridors in the short, medium and longer term. They include, in particular: the lack of cross-border connections; missing links or bottlenecks on other parts of the corridor; absence or insufficient quality of intermodal connections and/or their accessibility (e. g. of ports by railway lines); TEN-T infrastructure gaps in urban nodes; discontinuous standards preventing seamless services. Obvious examples for the latter case include infrastructure standards enabling continuous rail freight services (e.g. ERTMS equipment, provisions for 740 m long trains, required lauding gauges) or inland waterway services (e.g. continuous standards in line with the international classification).
From such critical issues' analysis, the studies draw conclusions on the general and specific objectives for corridor development until 2030 and highlight the most pressing challenges.
d) Project lists
Each corridor study includes a list of projects which have been identified on the basis of the experts' analysis and their cooperation with Member States and infrastructure managers. These lists remain preliminary: they are based on the intense and collaborative work of one year which has marked an unprecedented step towards TEN-T implementation. Given the complexity of the issues at stake, however, they still leave much to be deepened in the coming years. The lists also include a number of projects for which no time and financial planning exists yet. Further in-depth analysis will have to look into both: the need to capture all the projects which are needed to comply with the European law – i.e. fully complete the core network by 2030 – and to ensure these projects reach technical and financial maturity in time.
The projects identified for all nine corridors in the studies present the situation shown in the graph:
The further process
The Commission plans to launch new studies around mid-2015 which, building on the present studies, should deepen a number of issues, such as the market analysis, the socio-economic effects, the consolidation of project lists or the approach to prioritising projects. An important area of further analysis will also be the identification of project categories which have received less attention so far but are of key importance for the functioning of efficient and sustainable transport corridors, including: projects in the field of traffic management – notably intelligent transport systems in the road sector, in the field of technological innovation or projects related to the integration of urban areas in core network corridors.
The corridor fora will continue their work in 2015, and working group meetings will also continue to be organised to deal with specific issues.
All this will accompany the implementation of the first set of corridor work plans and consolidate the information basis with a view to updating the work plans in 2016 and 2018.