CER welcomes discussion in the Council on the review of the TEN-T policy

Posted: 13 December 2011 | | No comments yet

CER welcomes the discussion of the EU transport ministers in the Council on the EC proposals for the TEN-T Guidelines…

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CER welcomes the discussion of the EU transport ministers in the Council on the European Commission proposals for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Guidelines and the related financial instrument, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) which took place on 12 December in Brussels. Transport ministers expressed their support for the dual-layer structure proposed by the Commission, which consists of a core network that will be the priority in terms of implementation and a comprehensive network. In parallel, CER now calls upon transport ministers to support implementation of harmonised technical parameters when investing to the railway lines in order to ensure the efficiency and capacity enhancements requirement needed to meet the long-term modal shift targets outlined in the new Transport White Paper.

CER welcomes that the two Commission proposals focus on creating a much smaller but better defined European transport system which prioritises scarce financial resources on projects of high European added value. Many of the points that are important to the rail sector are reflected in the proposal, such as increased interconnection of different transport modes, more efficient use of financial resources, and the integration of the environmental and climate protection goals from the EU Strategy 2020 and the White Paper. CER strongly welcomes the integration of climate objectives, because rail is the most environmental friendly transport system and is dedicated to contributing to the EU’s climate change objectives.

The Commission proposal specifies technical standards for rail infrastructure in the comprehensive and core networks, some of which go beyond the current Technical Specifications for Interoperability for Infrastructure (INF TSI). CER generally supports the Commission proposal on technical standards and therefore calls upon ministers to embrace it in order to allow rail to increase its capacity and efficiency. CER however sees inconsistencies in the text and footnotes which must be reworded for better precision. The TEN-T technical standards for new and upgraded lines must be fully aligned with the INF TSI, including all exemptions noted in the INF TSI. Beyond this, for lines which are used by conventional freight trains, the axle load should be extended to 22.5 tonnes, and the train length to 750 meter on upgrades and new lines. The deployment plan for ERTMS on the TEN-T network must be aligned to Chapter 7 of the CCS TSI (Control Command System). With regard to the electrification, it should be clarified that the electrification is not compulsory for sidings and freight terminals. CER considers the scope of the TEN-T technical standards as stated above a necessary condition for being able to reach the modal shift targets outlined in the new Transport White Paper.

In its proposal, the European Commission identifies ten multimodal corridors which will involve at least three transport modes and cross at least three member states. For each corridor, member states together with the corresponding corridor platform are required to set up a corridor development plan, including an implementation plan and an investment plan. CER feels that multimodal corridor structures could lead to better coordination between member states and stakeholders in the planning and investment of corridors. They could also be beneficial in terms of securing public funds and attracting private capital to transport infrastructure. These benefits, however, can only be materialised if the structure of multimodal corridors is fully synchronized with the requirements of the EC 913/2010 regulation concerning a European rail network for competitive freight. CER shares the concern voiced by some member states at the Council meeting that there is a need for more precision with regard to the governance, organisation, planning, decision making and operation of the proposed multimodal TEN-T core network corridors before the costs and benefits of such structures can be fully understood.

CER appreciates the Commission’s commitment to co-finance parts of the future TEN-T core network through the introduction of a new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) which will fund pre-identified transport, energy and information and communications technology (ICT) priority infrastructures of EU interest. Under this new facility, the TEN-T core network shall be funded with EUR 21.7 billion. In addition, EUR 10 billion from the Cohesion Fund shall be ring-fenced for transport under the Connecting Europe Facility (i.e. the TEN-T core network).

CER shares the strong wish of the Central and Eastern European countries to reduce regional disparities and to close the gap between the level of transport infrastructure development in old and new member states. This is an issue of particular concern to the rail sector as rail infrastructure has been badly underfinanced in these countries for decades with disastrous consequences for the efficiency and quality of rail services. Investments in rail are of key importance if we want to reach the emission reduction targets laid out in the 2020 strategy and the Transport White Paper. CER therefore supports the proposal of the European Commission to ring-fence EUR 10 billion in the Cohesion Fund for investment in transport under the CEF.

CER Executive Director Johannes Ludewig concluded: “The centralised management of these funds will guarantee that investments are made where they have the biggest European added value and where they are needed most – for the removal of bottlenecks on the corridors of the highest strategic importance. It will avoid funds being wasted on a patchwork of individual projects that are rendered inefficient because the connections are missing.”