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Mobility and Transport
News article22 September 2016Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport

Transport Ministers sign declaration for "action plan" on rail freight transport for the Orient/East-Med Corridor

Transport Ministers sign declaration for "action plan" on rail freight transport for the Orient/East-Med Corridor

In order to remove bottlenecks and make rail transport between their countries more efficient, transport ministers of eight EU countries located along the Orient East-Med Corridor signed on the initiative of TEN-T Coordinator Mathieu GROSCH a declaration on 21st June 2016 during the TEN-T Days conference in Rotterdam.

An important part of the "Joint ministerial declaration on effective improvements to eliminate bottlenecks and facilitate international traffic on the Orient/East-Med Rail Freight Corridor" is the "action programme" that contains concrete proposals and measurements that shall be implemented within the coming months. The declaration has been signed by all countries among the Orient/East-Med Corridor, which stretches from the North of Germany, south-eastwards through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, to the Southern coast of Greece.

Less waiting times at border crossings, more competitiveness

The main goals of the measurements the transport ministers agreed upon by signing the Declaration are to improve punctuality and average transit times between the countries for freight trains, as well as to increase the corridor’s attractiveness, transport potential and competitiveness. To realise these aims, national action in the involved states is as important as effective cross-border coordination procedures. This requires deepened cooperation between all involved, the recognition and sharing of examples of best practice and commitments to cross-border agreements.

In concrete terms, Coordinator GROSCH proposed the significant reduction of average border crossing times to a maximum of two hours of waiting , which is targeted within the declaration until July 2018. Therefore, an in-depth analysis on possible reasons will identify e.g. technical, operational and administrative rules causing avoidable waiting times on the border until 31st December 2016, and the results need to be implemented thereafter. This means e.g. to optimize the locomotive availability at border crossings where different technical requirements make a change of locomotive necessary, or to avoid double technical or administrative controls on both sides of the border wherever it is possible.

Within the railway undertakings, the ministers underlined that the corridor capacity needs to be protected as much as possible. Therefore, the deadline for reserve capacity should be lowered in a market-oriented way. Also possible capacity restrictions need to be planned in advance, multi-annual investment plans shall be kept transparent and delays on infrastructure works need to be avoided, they pointed out.

Background information

Since January 2014, the European Union has a new transport infrastructure policy that aims to close the gaps between Member State’s transport networks, remove bottlenecks and to overcome technical barriers such as incompatible standards for railway traffic. It promotes and strengthens seamless transport chains for passengers and freight, while keeping up with the latest technological trends and looking for sustainable solutions.

This policy is implemented within the wider trans-European transport network (TEN-T). The network comprises nine Core Network Corridors identified for their strategic importance and seeks to increase compatibility between road, rail, air and water transport networks between and within EU states, reducing bottlenecks and increasing efficiency. These are complemented by two Horizontal Priorites, the Motorways of the Sea (MoS) and European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), which seek for cross-corridor cooperation on waterway- and rail transport issues.

The development of Rail Freight Corridors (RFCs) within the TEN-T network forms thereby a key element of the European transport policy in order to boost rail freight. A White Paper on Transport has been set up with the objective of shifting 30% of long-distance road freight on more sustainable modes of transport, particularly rail, by 2030.

Besides its rail network, the Orient/East-Med Corridor connects the maritime interfaces of the North, Baltic, Black and Mediterranean Seas, allowing optimising the use of the ports concerned and the related Motorways of the Sea. Including Elbe as inland waterway, it will improve the multimodal connections between Northern Germany, the Czech Republic, the Pannonian region and Southeast Europe. It extends, across the sea, from Greece to Cyprus. As European coordinator, Mathieu Grosch is responsible for coordinating the steps needed for an implementation of the TEN-T policy on the Orient/East-Med Corridor.


Publication date
22 September 2016
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport