In 2010, the EU Regulation 913/2010 concerning a European rail network for competitive freight was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council and entered into force on 9 November 2010. It was elaborated with the overall purpose to increase rail freight’s attractiveness and efficiency with special focus on international traffic, so that rail can increase its competitiveness and market share on the European transport market.
In order to achieve this, the Regulation has the general objective to improve the conditions for international rail freight by reinforcing cooperation at all levels – and especially among infrastructure managers/allocation bodies – along selected Rail Freight Corridors, with the twofold aim to:
(1) Develop the rail freight corridors in terms of capacity and performance in order to meet market demand both quantitatively and qualitatively.
(2) Lay the ground for provision of freight services of good quality meeting customer expectations.
It defined the establishment of 9 initial Rail Freight Corridors (RFC), some of them building further on the corresponding ERTMS Corridors. The first six corridors, amongst them also the RFC Rhine-Alpine, became operational on the 10th of November 2013. The remaining 3 became operational on the 10th of November 2015. The 9 Rail Freight Corridors together build a European-wide network for competitive freight, making the cooperation among the Rail Freight Corridors essential.
The creation of a Single European Transport Area should ease the movements of citizens and freight, reduce costs and enhance the sustainability of European transport. The role of rail in the establishment of this single European transport area is highlighted in the Transport White Paper, published by the European Commission in 2011. It contains 10 goals for a competitive and resource-efficient transport system and targets a modal shift to sustainable transport modes to achieve a reduction of 60% of the GHG emissions by 2050.
In its White Paper the European Commission also sets the goal that “30 % of road freight over 300km should shift to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030, and more than 50% by 2050, facilitated by efficient and green freight corridors. To meet this goal will also require appropriate infrastructure to be developed”.
In 2013, the European Commission adopted the following 2 Regulations:
- Regulation (EU) 1315/2013 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network
- Regulation (EU) 1316/2013 establishing the Connecting Europe Facility
Within this legal framework, the concept of the Core Network Corridors (CNC) was created. These CNC are multimodal corridors, the rail backbone of which are the above mentioned Rail Freight Corridors (RFC). In order to have maximum consistency and synergy between CNC and RFC, the initial RFCs were amended by Regulation 1316/2013.
Regulation 1315/2013 distinguishes between a core and a comprehensive TEN-T network both for passengers and freight. By 2030, the core network should meet a number of TEN-T requirements. These criteria should be met by 2050 for the comprehensive network. For rail, these criteria include a.o. electrification, ERTMS equipment, 22.5 t axle load, 100km/h and the possibility to run 740m Trains.
The Connecting Europe Facility governs EU funding in the transport sector for the period 2014 – 2020 and supports the development of a network of strategic European infrastructure.
The EEIG Corridor Rhine-Alpine EWIV is thankful for the support from the European Commission, without the help of which, the set-up, development and progress of the corridor organisation would not have been possible.
The corridor benefited from the previous TEN-T support programme in the period from 2007 to 2013 and the co-funding was mainly used for the development of the ERTMS Corridor A and the subsequent establishment as Rail Freight Corridor Rhine – Alpine. Since 2015, the corridor is co-financed through CEF for a period of 4 years for the action “Support and coordination of Rail Freight Corridor Rhine – Alpine for its long-term sustainable operation as required by the EU Regulation 913/2010, 1315/2013 and 1316/2013”.
Apart from the corridor, also individual Infrastructure Managers and Railway Undertakings can benefit from the European funds made available in order to develop an efficient and interoperable railway system.
Apart from constructing new railway infrastructure to close missing links or alleviate bottlenecks, it is also vital for infrastructure managers to optimise the utilisation of the existing rail network. In doing so, it is possible to take account for the predicted strong market development without detrimental effects on competitiveness. The deployment of ERTMS can enhance productivity along the corridor. CEF also contributes to meeting the other TEN-T requirements such as axle load and the running of 740m trains. All these measures must be viewed with the added value for the whole corridor.
Railway undertakings can use CEF for the on-board equipment of ERTMS or for reducing noise of freight wagons.
It is therefore essential from the point of view of IMs and RUs to develop the whole corridor in a holistic approach so that in the end, the railways as means of transport are given a competitive chance in the contest with their main competitor, the road.
To shift freight transport from roads, an efficient, interoperable and attractive rail system is essential. ERTMS is one of the key enablers of the Single European Railway Area, as a unique European signalling system facilitates cross-border traffic operations and its specifications are an essential contribution to the target of full interoperability, which includes all related issues like line parameters, gauges, train length operational rules or cross-acceptance on border sections to enable the use of e. g. standard locomotives or defined limited language levels.
Working on the fundamental issues of interoperability and cross acceptance for an economic and smooth placing into service present a vital challenge and the establishment of interoperability through a common European train control system is a paramount prerequisite. This involves, operational and engineering rules, system functionalities, system performance and quality of service, life cycle of existing signalling systems and line parameters, as well as a common concept for purchasing, installing, testing and accepting works which have to be analysed in detail, coordinated and harmonised as far as possible among all parties.
Therefore the adoption of the EDP 2016 will set a new legal framework to reach the achieved targets by the means of ERTMS.