Frost & Sullivan research associate Shyam Raman comments on EU Transport Commissioner’s interest in a greater interoperability on Europe’s high speed rail networks.
In a recent interview with CNN, European Union (EU) transport Commissioner Mr Siim Kallas spoke about the Trans-European Transport Networks Programme and the interoperability of high speed rail as a means of generating economic growth across the EU.
The Trans-European Transport Networks Programme (TEN-t) aims at developing road, rail, air and water transport systems to serve the European Union.
Currently, there are 4 high speed rail priority projects aiming to connect major cities in the EU, which are:
- High speed railway axis Paris–Brussels–Cologne–Amsterdam–London
- High speed railway axis of South-West Europe which has three branches:
- Mediterranean branch: Madrid-Barcelona (operational) – Figueras-Perpignan (completed) – Montpellier-Nimes (French high speed network)
- Iberian branch: Madrid-Lisboa-Porto
- Atlantic branch: Madrid-Valladolid (operational) – Burgos-Vitoria-Bilbao/San Sebastian-Dax-Bordeaux-Tours (Paris)
3. High speed railway axis East which consists of:
- 300 kilometres of new high speed line between Paris and Baudrecourt (Moselle)
- 179 kilometres of line to be upgraded between Baudrecourt, Saarbrücken and Mannheim (on the Paris-Metz-Frankfurt rail route)
- 100 kilometres of upgraded lines between Baudrecourt, Metz and Luxembourg.
4. High speed rail interoperability on the Iberian Peninsula:
- Involves the construction and the upgrading of the Spanish and Portuguese high speed rail networks, in order to make them fully interoperable with the rest of the trans-European rail network.
High speed rail is the most efficient and environmentally friendly mode of travel up to 600km or 4-5 hours journey time (with a sweet spot around 200-400kms).
Rail increasingly compete with air travel in these distances when considering the process of security checks, baggage screening, checking-in but also the effective working time for business travellers.
When the Paris – Lyon TGV line opened, travel time was reduced from 4 to 2 hours and air traffic’s modal share declined by 27 per cent.
One of the other key developments is the ability to leverage high speed infrastructure for freight transport, with a few examples such TGV-Postes, HS1 and DB plan.
Although the priority for rail projects is highest in the EU regional policy, member nations are still allocating majority of the funds to road transport projects.
From 2007-2013, only EUR 15bn will finance rail projects while allocation for road projects totals EUR 30bn (out of a total of EUR 50bn).
A pan European high speed rail will not only allow for the safest mode of transport across Europe, but it will also free existing conventional lines for freight traffic increasing payload capacity substantially.
Developing transport infrastructure is a key factor for economic growth. Interoperability in EU is hampered by different signalling systems, electrification systems and different gauges.
There are 19 different signalling systems operational in the nations of the EU, which is a major obstacle to interoperability and the reason why all new freight and high speed rail lines are required to use European Train Control Systems (ETCS).
Rail can provide immeasurable economic, political and environmental benefits, if infrastructure is modernised.
Rolling stock manufacturers have now incorporated cutting edge technology and design that allows locomotives and railcars to adapt to different electrification systems across borders.
Today we have multiple transportation modes coexisting, however very little to no integration across the various solutions.
One of the biggest challenges in the coming decade will be to support and enable the concepts of intermodality and interoperability for passenger and freight transport, allowing to increase capacity through the optimisation of existing infrastructure.
The various mobility ecosystems will converge to create new opportunities for the like of “Mobility Integrators” that will offer a smooth and seamless door-to-door, end-to-end transport solutions.
The future of transport will be ‘Green’, ‘Integrated’ and ‘Interoperable’: SMART.
- Previous story Purley station wins at the National Cycle Rail Awards
- Next story First metro line in Algerian capital starts passenger service