CODE24: One corridor – one strategy!

Posted: 6 April 2011 | | No comments yet

The trans-European railway axis (TEN-T) no. 24, also called ‘Corridor 24’ is the major North-South freight corridor in Europe connecting the international harbours of Rotterdam and Antwerp to the Mediterranean port of Genoa. Corridor 24 covers a number of the most important economic regions in Europe. The major European North-South transport axis crosses the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Its catchment area comprises 70 million inhabitants and operates 50% (700 million tonnes/year) of the North-South rail freight.

The trans-European railway axis (TEN-T) no. 24, also called ‘Corridor 24’ is the major North-South freight corridor in Europe connecting the international harbours of Rotterdam and Antwerp to the Mediterranean port of Genoa. Corridor 24 covers a number of the most important economic regions in Europe. The major European North-South transport axis crosses the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Its catchment area comprises 70 million inhabitants and operates 50% (700 million tonnes/year) of the North-South rail freight.

The trans-European railway axis (TEN-T) no. 24, also called ‘Corridor 24’ is the major North-South freight corridor in Europe connecting the international harbours of Rotterdam and Antwerp to the Mediterranean port of Genoa. Corridor 24 covers a number of the most important economic regions in Europe. The major European North-South transport axis crosses the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Its catchment area comprises 70 million inhabitants and operates 50% (700 million tonnes/year) of the North-South rail freight.

The opening of the two alpine basis tunnels Lötschberg Tunnel in 2007 and the Gotthard Tunnel (expected in 2017) and the parallel expansion of the feeders are milestones both in terms of upgrading the corridor itself and in terms of development of the European railway system in general. The biggest traffic bloc and transport obstacle in Europe will be abolished! Nevertheless, some major bottlenecks and a lack of trans-regional co-ordination still threaten the potential of the axis, limiting its economic and spatial development. Since the corridor is considered as an integrative functional space, the importance of a joint development strategy for the entire corridor is obvious.

Who we are

The CODE24 project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) from the INTERREG IVB North-West Europe (NWE) Programme. NWE finances projects “that maximise the diversity of NWE’s territorial assets by tackling common challenges through transnational cooperation”. Thus, CODE24 contributes to a more cohesive EU society because it is based on the cooperation of people from different countries to work on a common topic that touches the lives of EU citizens.

In CODE24, 15 formal partners out of regional planning associations, cities, ports, logistics consultancies and research institutes from the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, spread along the 1,200km distance between the two ends of the corridor, are working jointly towards the common project aims. Each partner serves thereby as source of information on the one hand and acts as a dissemination channel for the relevant results on the other hand. The project is co-financed by NWE, the Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE), the Gotthard Komitee, and the partner institutions.

Partners from science are the ETH Zurich (CH), University of Utrecht (NL) and SiTI (IT) who work on aspects of spatial planning, as well as the University of Duisburg-Essen (DE) and Hochschule Kehl (DE) who concentrate on economic aspects of regional development. The regional and local actors on board are Regional associations Ruhr (DE), Rhine-Main (DE), Rhine-Neckar (DE), City of Mannheim (DE), and Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion (DE). The praxis is represented by the Ports of Rotterdam (NL) and Genoa (IT) as well as by PTV AG (DE), TransCare (DE) and Uniontrasporti (IT).

Our aims

The project CODE24 intends the inter – connection of economic development, spatial, transport and ecological planning along the axis. CODE24 stands for ‘Corridor 24 Development’. The project aims at a co-ordinated transnational strategy to support the improvement and the development of the corridor.

The overall objective is to accelerate and jointly develop the transport capacity of the entire corridor by ensuring optimal economic benefits and spatial integration while reducing negative impacts on the environment at local and regional level. By focusing on regional aspects in the corridor area and joint development strategies, the project will strengthen the position of regional actors and stakeholders. It will provide planning tools and tailor made solutions to remove major bottlenecks and enable pro-active stakeholder participation. This encompasses both the development of the railway system as well as a sustainable spatial development.

Focus at regional level

The project is a bottom-up initiative. The CODE24 initiative focuses on regional aspects in the corridor area such as spatial and economic development, environmental issues, integrated management of logistics as well as communication and awareness rising. It is bound to bring relevant stakeholders together, develop innovative processes and joint initiatives. Thus, project CODE24 functions as the third complimentary pillar for the benefit of Corridor 24 besides the Coordinator of the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) dealing with European political aspects and the EEIG Corridor Rotterdam-Genoa dealing with infrastructure and operational aspects.

Our approach

The project partners operate in four thematic work packages aiming to achieve the above mentioned goals. These work packages include not only the central field of ‘spatial planning and infrastructure development’ but also tackle the fields of ‘environmental protection and noise reduction’, ‘Economics and Logistics’ and ‘Public Relations and Communication’.

Keeping in mind our goal to enforce a positive corridor development, it is indeed important to tackle this broad range of issues related to spatial development. Concentrating only on rail related issues does not allow enforcing a sustainable development along the axis. Sustainability is thus a maxim for our activities.

Therefore, even after the projects lifetime, the partnership shall be maintained and held upright for further development which will not end with the project – all the more political support will be necessary and path breaking continuously.

Our activities

The project activities are structured thematically in four work packages and 15 actions. The thematic groups and the activities are shown in Table 1.

Spatial and infrastructural development Environmental aspects and noise reduction
  1. Corridor info system
  2. Railway and SETtlement development dynamic visualisation tool
  3. Collaborative assessment process and decision making on the corridor development
  4. Planning pilot actions: Informal planning procedure
  5. Management of ecological compensation measures for major infrastructure projects
  6. Planners toolbox for innovative noise protection
Economic aspects Communication, acceptance and enduring interregional cooperation
  1. Creation, development and evaluation of impacts of logistic clusters
  2. Optimising processes for linking the terminal ports (Genoa and Rotterdam) to the hinterland
  3. Assessing costs and other effects of bottlenecks for the regions
  4. Online rail transport spot exchange
  5. General project communication
  6. Project events, conferences, workshops and seminars
  7. Regional workshops and regional round tables
  8. CODE24 mobile exhibition
  9. Towards an EGTC – European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation

Surprisingly, there is no general overview of the current situation of the corridor as far as transport means, transport capacities and bottlenecks as well as regional development are concerned. Therefore, an internet based Corridor Info System (CIS)1 is being created in order to have the basic data (investment cost per project, realisation calendar, etc.) available for the entire corridor including a zoom tool facilitating to have a closer look inside each region. The CIS will thus provide the regions with the necessary transnational overview about the state of the corridor. This overview will also be used as a fundament for the identification of potentials and for developing different scenarios for effective solutions for main bottlenecks in transport and spatial development. The scenarios will be visualised (partly in 3D), showing the corridor and its potential developments in animated presentation.

These scenarios will serve as a discussion basis for the partners and for the political discussion. The project partnership will also run a collaborative assessment process based on the different scenarios and will come to a shared position regarding the most relevant issues affecting the future development of the corridor. The project will further promote pilot projects, using innovative spatial development methods and ad hoc instruments nevertheless always keeping in mind the big picture.

 One of the most negative impacts for inhabitants and the environment along the corridor is noise in densely populated areas caused by passing freight trains. Therefore noise reduction is a big issue to be tackled and communicated. A simulation of noise situations will be provided, in close cooperation with leading researchers in this field. This so-called ‘auralisation tool’ will practically demonstrate different noise realities for example of a train passing by with a certain speed and with or without various noise reduction measures showing the different effects. The results will be innovative solutions for railway noise mitigation and will be presented together with a compilation of practicable and effective noise reduction measures including recommendations in a planner’s manual.

These negative impacts have an effect on inhabitants and the environment – such as protected nature, landscape and heritage areas are well known throughout the whole EU – especially in the most important economic European Metropolitan Areas. CODE24 will elaborate and test innovative compensation measures in order to mitigate conflicts about land use and to achieve smoother and prompter planning procedures for major infrastructure projects.

Increasing the capacity of the whole axis by a bottom-up approach, making visible the economic benefits to the regions along the corridor, will increase the economical use of already existing structures strengthening the competitiveness of the corridor as a functional space as well as that of rail to road. In CODE24, this will be realised by developing a feasible strategy among all project partners to enforce sustainable logistic clusters enabling the logistic sector to prosper in line with each of the regional development needs. A database about case studies and a generic model for regional analyses will be the basis set up by CODE24 partners.

A feasible cluster strategy will be elaborated, combined with a practical cluster management tool that will create sustainable structures in logistics in order to increase the economic capacity in terms of logistics of European regions.

With the example of the terminal ports of Rotterdam and Genoa and their linkage to rail seaports and inland terminals, their linking to the hinterland will be the target pilot for optimising trans-shipment processes to overcome existing technical and regulatory barriers of the supply and demand side of traffic.

The identification of costs of the bottlenecks of the participating regions in CODE24 is another crucial step towards minimising negative impacts or even avoiding them. By application of an evaluation model to selected regions, a priority list of measures and respective investments will need to be compiled.

With a pilot implementation of an online spot exchange for rail freight in the Rhine-Main area, the development of a robust system shall be tested. Its analysis and improvement will result in a concept for operational use with potential clients and their specific requirements.

Our communication strategy

Communication and awareness rising are essential to gain public acceptance. That is why the CODE24 partnership defined a specific work package just for these issues. By continuously making project activities and results visible to all the different target groups on regional and transnational level, the project is keeping up the awareness for the development needs along the line.

Regular project events, conferences, workshops, seminars and round tables taking place throughout the project’s lifetime contribute to a continuous participation and consultation of the target groups and stakeholders involved. Supported by the project website, a first project leaflet, an information booth and a regular newsletter, the information flow has been set up promptly after the CODE24 kick-off.

The creation of a mobile exhibition (a CODE24-container and a mobile exhibition) is in process. With this device, the project will be able to install the mobile exhibition on prominent places on the line and around the train stations along the corridor and inform the general public in an entertaining way about the corridor and the regional development issues tackled by the partners.

The larger conferences in 2010 and 2013 address a wide range of participants from the policy sector, research or transport sector.

Thematically focussed regional round – tables involve economic players at regional level as well as public actors dealing with regional development issues. So far, eight regional roundtables were held in regions along the corridor with thematic focus on spatial planning and regional development. On the one hand, the project could present its activities at these roundtables. On the other hand, the regional actors could contribute to the project by providing missing information.

European Grouping for Territorial Co-operation (EGCT)

The CODE24 project partnership plans to perpetuate its co-operation beyond the lifetime of the INTERREG project. The EU offers a new legal instrument, the EGCT, for the purpose of enabling public authorities in the EU to co-operate on a sound legal basis. Thus, an EGTC could serve as a perfect legal form for the regions, municipalities, ports etc. to continue their efforts for promoting Corridor 24 and its development. With the setting up of an EGTC, the institutionalisation of transnational co-operation as in CODE24, the regions involved will gain a platform for future and sustainable co-operation activities which will strengthen their appearance towards policy making at national level as well as at the European level.


A sound basis for future decision making is provided by the Corridor Info System and the development scenarios. Further, innovative methods for planners are being compiled in a toolbox, where among others the practical ‘noise-auralisation’ and innovative compensation measures shall help to find a tailor-made solution for the regions. On the way to concrete decisions, it is a further prerequisite to have a clear overview of the economical impact of different scenarios. This is done with assessing the logistic clusters, showing up the costs and effects of bottlenecks, and by providing innovative solutions for linking the terminal ports to the hinterland. Further support for the economic development along the line will be provided by online freight transport spot exchange.

The regions cooperating in CODE24 identified the need for a joint development strategy for the entire corridor. Locally or regionally focussed actions may not be efficient enough if the ‘big picture’ of the entire corridor is not regarded. The first steps towards a coordinated strategy are complete, but there is still a long way to go.



About the Author

Jörg Saalbach earned his Master’s Degree in Geography before starting his post-graduate studies of Spatial Planning at the ETH Zurich. He started his professional career as a regional planner in South-West Germany. For 15 years he worked for the French-German cross border co-operation including the management of INTERREG A programmes and projects. Since 2007 he is Representative of European Affairs for the Regional Planning Authority Rhein-Neckar which again acts as Lead Partner of the INTERREG IVB-NWE project ‘CODE24’.