On Tuesday December 14th, the European Commission adopted four proposals that will modernize the EU’s transport system. This is meant to support the transition to cleaner, greener, and smarter mobility, in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal.
The planned Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) would see new high speed rail connections built by 2040, reducing journey times on trips such as those from Vigo to Porto, Budapest to Bucharest and Hamburg to Copenhagen.
Europe’s green and digital transition will bring big changes to the ways we move around. Faster European rail connections with easy-to-find tickets and improved passenger rights.Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal
The TEN-T is an EU-wide network of rail, inland waterways, short-sea shipping routes, and roads. It connects 424 major cities with ports, airports and railway terminals. When the TEN-T is complete, it will cut travel times between these cities. For example, passengers will be able to travel between Copenhagen and Hamburg in 2.5 hours by train, instead of the 4.5 hours that are required today.
To address the missing links and modernize the entire network, the proposal:
- Requires that the major TEN-T passenger rail lines allow trains to travel at 160 km/h or faster by 2040 thus creating competitive high-speed railway connections throughout the Union. Canals and rivers must ensure good navigation conditions, unhindered for example by water levels, for a minimum number of days per year.
- Calls for more transhipment terminals, improved handling capacity at freight terminals, reduced waiting times at rail border crossings, longer trains to shift more freight onto cleaner transport modes, and the option for lorries to be transported by train network-wide. To ensure infrastructure planning meets real operational needs, it also creates nine ‘European Transport Corridors’ that integrate rail, road, and waterways.
- Introduces a new intermediary deadline of 2040 to advance the completion of major parts of the network ahead of the 2050 deadline that applies to the wider, comprehensive network. So new high-speed rail connections between Porto and Vigo, and Budapest and Bucharest – among others – must be completed for 2040.
- Requires all 424 major cities along the TEN-T network to develop Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans to promote zero-emission mobility and to increase and improve public transport and infrastructure for walking and cycling.
Rail remains one of the safest and cleanest transport modes and is therefore at the heart of our policy to make EU mobility more sustainable. Today’s TEN-T proposal is accompanied by an Action Plan on long-distance and cross-border rail that lays out a roadmap with further actions to help the EU meet its target of doubling high-speed rail traffic by 2030, and tripling it by 2050.
We want to make travel in the EU more efficient – and safer – for drivers, passengers and businesses alike. we are boosting high speed rail and embedding multimodality, and a new north-south Corridor in Eastern Europe.Adina Vălean, Transport Commissioner
Although the number of people traveling by train has increased in recent years, only 7% of rail kilometers traveled between 2001 and 2018 involved cross-border trips. To encourage more people to consider the train for trips abroad, the Action Plan sets out concrete actions to remove barriers to cross-border and long-distance travel, and make rail travel more attractive for passengers. The actions include:
- A multimodal legislative proposal in 2022 to boost user-friendly multimodal ticketing;
- Allowing passengers to find the best tickets at the most attractive price and better supporting passengers faced with disruption, and a commitment to investigating an EU-wide VAT exemption for train tickets;
- The repeal of redundant national technical and operational rules;
- An announcement of proposals for 2022 on timetabling and capacity management, which will boost quicker and more frequent cross-border rail services;
- Guidelines for track access pricing in 2023 that will ease rail operators’ access to infrastructure, increasing competition and allowing for more attractive tic