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Mobility and Transport

The North Sea – Baltic Corridor

Corridor description

The North Sea-Baltic Corridor railway, included in the Core Network Corridor (NSB CNC), is over 6,100 Km long and crosses 8 countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland.

The NSB CNC connects the ports of the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea with the ports of the North Sea. It starts at the modern harbours on the Gulf of Finland of Helsinki (Vuosaari) and Tallinn (Muuga), passing south through the three Baltic States and north-eastern Poland until Warsaw. From there, it follows the traditional East-West corridor to Lodz, Poznan and Berlin continuing to the ports on the North Sea coast. The corridor has branches to Ventspils in Latvia and Klaipeda and Vilnius in Lithuania. Nevertheless, only the main north-south axis + the connection to Vilnius is considered relevant for ERTMS deployment (the rest is and remains a 1520 mm network).

The corridor will provide modern transport links between Finland and the three Baltic States on one side and Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium on the other.

The most relevant project is "Rail Baltica", a European standard gauge railway between Tallinn, Riga, Kaunas and north-eastern Poland.

The NSB Corridor includes the following sections:

  • Helsinki – Tallinn – Riga
  • Ventspils – Riga
  • Riga – Kaunas
  • Klaipeda – Kaunas – Vilnius
  • Kaunas – Warszawa
  • BY border – Warszawa – Poznań – Frankfurt/Oder – Berlin – Hamburg
  • Berlin – Magdeburg – Braunschweig – Hannover
  • Hannover – Bremen – Bremerhaven/Wilhelmshaven
  • Hannover – Osnabrück – Hengelo – Almelo – Deventer – Utrecht
  • Utrecht – Amsterdam
  • Utrecht – Rotterdam – Antwerpen
  • Hannover – Köln – Antwerpen

ERTMS deployment on the corridor


There are 6,189.73 km where ERTMS is expected to be deployed in the NSB corridor by 2030, 7% of which are already in operation with ETCS, 72% in operation with GSM-R, ETCS under construction in 22% of the length and GSM-R in 22%. The ETCS deployment rates are quite low considering the long-term deployment (2030).

Defining the short term deployment as the length to be deployed by 2023 according to the EDP (1,640.39 km), 26% is in operation while 63% is still under construction. The planned ETCS deployment in the NSB, from a short-term point of view, is 27% of its total length.

No section is planned to be deployed in Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by 2023. The ongoing design and construction of the new 1435 mm gauge Rail Baltica line, aimed to integrate Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the European rail network, envisages the deployment of the ERTMS on the entire line. The current project's design guidelines plan the implementation of the Level 2 Baseline 3 ETCS system but may be revised, taking into account the latest developments. Decisions regarding the mobile radio communications system will be made at a later stage of the project, when the requirements for FRMCS will be formalised.

In the Netherlands, all the sections planned to be in operation by 2023 are already in operation. In Poland and Germany, the ETCS rate in operation is low (2% and 0% respectively). The Warsaw – Grodzisk Maz line in Poland is delayed from 2018 to 2021. On the other hand, Belgium has a reasonable rate of ETCS implementation, with 56% of the length planned to be in operation by 2023 already deployed.