"Core network corridors" were introduced to facilitate the coordinated implementation of the core network. They bring together public and private resources and concentrate EU support from the CEF, particularly to:
- remove bottlenecks,
- build missing cross-border connections and
- promote modal integration and interoperability.
They also aim at:
- integrating (as ongoing modal measure, these corridors shall be integrated into the multi-modal TEN-T) rail freight corridors,
- promoting clean fuel and
- other innovative transport solutions,
- advancing telematics applications for efficient infrastructure use,
- integrating urban areas into the TEN-T,
- enhancing safety.
Nine core network corridors are identified in the annex to the CEF Regulation, which includes a list of projects pre-identified for possible EU funding during the period 2014 – 2020, based on their added value for TEN-T development and their maturity status.
A work plan will be drawn up for each corridor that will set out the current status of its infrastructure, a schedule for removing physical, technical, operational and administrative bottlenecks, and an overview of the financial resources (EU, international, national, regional and local; public and private). The second generation of the work plans of the 11 European Coordinators were approved in December 2016. They establish the basis for action until 2030.
To make sure that the corridors are developed effectively and efficiently, each will be led by a European Coordinator, supported by a consultative forum (the "Corridor Forum"). The European Coordinators deliver periodically a common progress report.
The following nine core network corridors have been identified and will function along the lines described:
- The Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor is a crucial north-south axis for the European economy. Crossing the Baltic Sea from Finland to Sweden and passing through Germany, the Alps and Italy, it links the major urban centres and ports of Scandinavia and Northern Germany to continue to the industrialised high production centres of Southern Germany, Austria and Northern Italy further to the Italian ports and Valletta. The most important projects in this corridor are the fixed Fehmarnbelt crossing and Brenner base tunnel, including their access routes. It extends, across the sea, from Southern Italy and Sicily to Malta.
- The North Sea-Baltic Corridor connects the ports of the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea with the ports of the North Sea. The corridor will connect Finland with Estonia by ferry, provide modern road and rail transport links between the three Baltic States on the one hand and Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium on the other. Between the Odra River and German, Dutch and Flemish ports, it also includes inland waterways, such as the "Mittelland-Kanal". The most important project is "Rail Baltic", a European standard gauge railway between Tallinn, Riga, Kaunas and North-Eastern Poland.
- The North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor stretches from Ireland and the north of UK through the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France. This multimodal corridor, comprising inland waterways in Benelux and France, aims not only at offering better multimodal services between the North Sea ports, the Maas, Rhine, Scheldt, Seine, Saone and Rhone river basins and the ports of Fos-sur-Mer and Marseille, but also better interconnecting the British Isles with continental Europe.
- The Baltic-Adriatic Corridor is one of the most important trans-European road and railway axes. It connects the Baltic with the Adriatic Sea, through industrialized areas between Southern Poland (Upper Silesia), Vienna and Bratislava, the Eastern Alpine region and Northern Italy. It comprises important railway projects such as Semmering base tunnel and Koralm railway in Austria and cross-border sections between PL, CZ and SK.
- 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.
- The Rhine-Alpine Corridor constitutes one of the busiest freight routes of Europe, connecting the North Sea ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp to the Mediterranean basin in Genoa, via Switzerland and some of the major economic centres in the Rhein-Ruhr, the Rhein-Main-Neckar, regions and the agglomeration of Milan in Northern Italy. This multimodal corridor includes the Rhine as inland waterway. Key projects are the base tunnels, partly already completed, in Switzerland and their access routes in Germany and Italy.
- The Atlantic Corridor links the Western part of the Iberian Peninsula and the ports of Le Havre and Rouen to Paris and further to Mannheim/Strasbourg, with high speed rail lines and parallel conventional ones, including also the Seine as inland waterway. The maritime dimension plays a crucial role in this corridor.
- The Rhine-Danube Corridor, with the Main and Danube waterway as its backbone, connects the central regions around Strasbourg and Frankfurt via Southern Germany to Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and finally the Black Sea, with an important branch from Munich to Prague, Zilina, Kosice and the Ukrainian border.
- The Mediterranean Corridor links the Iberian Peninsula with the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. It follows the Mediterranean coastlines of Spain and France, crosses the Alps towards the east through Northern Italy, leaving the Adriatic coast in Slovenia and Croatia towards Hungary. Apart from the Po River and some other canals in Northern Italy, it consists of road and rail. Key railway projects along this corridor are the links Lyon – Turin and the section Venice – Ljubljana.
Core network corridors lead the way in implementing the new TEN-T dimension, as conceived with the 2013 Guidelines. These corridors are strong means for the European Commission to not only boost investments but to also advance and showcase the achievement of wider EU transport policy objectives. Each of the nine core network corridors, as described below, present many opportunities for promoting overarching transport solutions. The ultimate objective of infrastructure development along these corridors – and on the core network as a whole – is to complete seamless connections for the sake of efficient, future-oriented and high-quality transport services for citizens and economic operators.
The European Commission's "Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource-efficient transport system" (the White Paper of 2011) strengthens alignment of TEN-T and transport policy developments: Europe's transport sector will only be able to keep abreast with economical, technological, societal and environmental ambitions of the coming decades when it seizes their interrelations and synergies of the various issues at stake. To cope with increasing mobility levels as a precondition for smart, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, to meet the sector's demanding carbon reduction objectives and to safeguard Europe's global position, the transport system as a whole must be further enhanced.
The 2011 White Paper sets out a range of policy measures which – inter alia – aim at removing remaining barriers to the internal market (with a strong emphasis on the railway and maritime sectors), improving transport safety and security, boosting quality services within and across transport modes, innovating to make the system more efficient, sustainable and user-friendly and to advance the transport industry's global competitiveness as well as, not least, ensuring efficient connections with global markets.
None of these policy measures may be implemented in a comprehensive way without the corresponding infrastructural provisions. Infrastructure development must enable the achievement of established European objectives such as those in the fields of interoperability, safety or advanced service concepts. This is why, for example, the full set of technical specifications for railways, interoperability provisions for intelligent transport systems, rules for the setting up of rail freight corridors as well as for the safety of road tunnels have been systematically taken up in the TEN-T Guidelines. This is also why infrastructure categories agreed by international organisations (such as those in the field of inland waterways) have become prescriptive standards in the Guidelines. And it is why key European projects, which build on common efforts of past yeas – such as the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management (SESAR) - have been reintegrated.
While "responding", on the infrastructural side, to a range of previously agreed policy measures, the new TEN-T policy has made a step change in "pro-actively" shaping future transport. It has introduced new provisions in fields such as new technologies and innovation, multi-modal infrastructure development, sustainable freight transport services or TEN-T related infrastructure development in urban nodes. It places great importance to the infrastructure equipment for alternative clean fuel solutions. Significantly broadened was also the scope of "intelligent" infrastructure development for advanced traffic management within and across modes. This also comprises "communicating systems" between infrastructure and vehicles where they have become functionally indivisible. Such intelligent system approaches become an issue in fields such as the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) which replaces conventional control and command systems, for road traffic or freight logistics. They drive user service quality forward and – from an infrastructural perspective – significantly contribute to optimising the efficient use of resources, including in terms of investment.
The all-encompassing structure of the new TEN-T enables integrated approaches towards the promotion of transport policy overall. In the context of the strengthened network approach, with infrastructure management at multi-modal level as well as smart equipment, it constitutes a firm basis for an enhanced mobility system. In this respect, the nine core network corridors can be expected to contain a wealth of smaller projects and initiatives which – besides the large investment projects listed on the following pages – may contribute to advancing transport policy objectives.
The immense complexity of the core network corridors is a real challenge. The gains that can be expected from the multitude of interactions and synergies, the technological opportunities, the echo of users … should, on the other hand, be strong motivators to face that complexity. The innovative governance system of the core network – with European coordinators in the lead and with a strong support structure around them (corridor fora, thematic working groups of experts as well as other regular exchange of information) have been specifically conceived for this purpose. The process starts now and will be built up over the coming years.
A broad range of players – which have been directly involved in infrastructure development already, or who wish to commit themselves in the future – seem ready to get more actively involved: public and private authorities at national, regional or local levels, infrastructure managers, investors, users or civil society representatives. The objectives are set at EU level, and initiatives of those who may help achieving them are welcome. With the 26 billion € budget of the Connecting Europe Facility, the Commission may stimulate such action. It hopes that the corridor approach, with "major-project-pipelines" in the centre, will at the same time become a genuine field for promoting a forward-looking transport system, for stimulating ideas and benefiting jointly. With this ambition in mind, the Commission would like to see the nine core network corridors to be forerunners of a full core network, to be completed by 2030.
Two key transport policy areas, which are closely related to infrastructure development, have been provided with a TEN-T governance form which is comparable to that of the nine "geographical" corridors, described on the following pages: the establishment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and the promotion of Motorways of the Sea which aim at relieving land transport corridors and may constitute their "maritime leg". For these two areas, European Coordinators have been nominated too and cooperate closely with the corresponding infrastructure managers and transport operators.