Deal reached on £1.25 trillion European transport network

Transport ministers have reached agreement on proposals to transform the existing patchwork of roads, railways, airports and canals into a unified European transport network.

The proposed Regulation for guidelines for Trans-European Networks(TEN-T) is designed to remove cross-border bottlenecks, upgrade infrastructure and streamline cross-border transport operations for passengers and businesses throughout the EU.

The cost of EU infrastructure development to match the demand for transport has been estimated at over €1.5 trillion (£1.25 trillion) for 2010-2030. The completion of the TEN-T network requires about €550bn until 2020 out of which some €215bn can be referred to the removal of the main bottlenecks.

By 2030 the new core European transport network will connect 86 main European ports with rail and road links, 37 key airports with rail connections into major cities. In addition, 15,000km of railway line will be upgraded to high speed and there will be 35 major cross-border projects to reduce bottlenecks.

Commission vice-president Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: “This is a very significant step forwards. Transport is the lifeblood of the European economy. And if it does not flow smoothly, our economy will weaken and fail to grow. Ministers have today given strong political backing for plans to build the strategic transport connections necessary to fuel Europe’s future economic growth.”

Ministers endorsed the Commission’s proposals for a new EU transport core network to be completed by 2030. The core network will establish the vital transport connections necessary to underpin the single market and fuel future economic growth and allow a more focused and effective targeting of EU transport investments.

The core network will be complemented by a comprehensive transport network feeding into it, with a time horizon of 2050.

The Commission’s proposals set common technical requirements for the TEN-T infrastructure to ensure seamless transport connections interoperability throughout the network. For example, the basic ITS systems to control the trains must apply on most parts of the TEN-T network and tunnel and road safety standards must apply throughout.

The new TEN-T guidelines introduce 10 implementing corridors on the core transport network. This is necessary to ensure co-ordinated development of the network. The corridors will bring together the member states concerned, as well as the relevant stakeholders. European co-ordinators will chair “corridor platforms” that will bring together all the stakeholders.

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