The Mediterranean Railway Corridor: a European priority

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FERRMED is a European-level multi-sectoral association, initiated by the business world, which has the following main objectives:

  • To enhance business competitiveness through the improvement of transportation systems, railway in particular.
  • To define a basic European network of freight railway transportation (Core Network) where the so-called FERRMED standards would be implemented.
  • To improve the harbour and airport connections with their respective ‘hinterlands’.
  • To push for the Great Freight Rail Axis Scandinavia– Rhine–Rhone–Western Mediterranean (FERRMED Great Axis).

FERRMED completed, a year ago, a Supply/Demand, Technical and Socio-Economic Global Study regarding the FERRMED Great Axis and its area of influence.

This study illustrates that a progressive implementation of FERRMED’s standards is the only way to reverse the negative trend of a decrease in rail use for land freight transportation. FERRMED’s standards include the management unification of the Trans-European Core Network; harmonisation of the control systems; the UICC loading gauge; setting track width at 1,435 mm; enabling the length of trains reaching 1,500 metres and their weight ranging from 3,600 to 5,000 tons of loading capacity; topping maximum slope at 0,012 (12‰); unifying tariffs for the use of infrastructure; free competition; implementation in the important corridors of double lines with double track; etc.

Therefore, the implementation of these standards enables for the duplication of the number of tons/km transported  from now until 2025..

Despite the investments being  extensive, if the standards were to be applied in the FERRMED Great Axis and its influence area, they would be profitable with an 11.1% internal profitability rate. Some of these investments would include: providing a solution to bottle necks;  encircling large cities; building new lines where they are needed; adapting the rolling stock materials; adapting terminals and tracks for 1,500 metres long trains; enlarging the loading gauge; adapting the track width in the Iberian Peninsula (Mediterranean Corridor); electrifying the main lines that are still not electrified; unifying the control systems; installing anti-noise walls; etc.

This Great Axis links all the economic regions that are considered the European Union’s economic engines, as well as the main sea and fluvial ports. Its influence area includes 54% of the EU’s population and 66% of its GDP.

The South sector of the great Axis constitutes the Mediterranean Corridor (from Lyon to Algeciras). From Nîmes and Marseille it goes along the coast and links all the main ports of Southern France and the Iberian Peninsula.

The development of this Corridor, in line with FERRMED’s criteria, would balance  intercontinental port traffic, which today is mainly concentrated in the North Sea harbours.

The Mediterranean is an emerging sea, across which the most important sea traffic circulates.

The EU needs to strategically have two main entrance gateways for intercontinental traffic: the North Sea harbour front and the North-West Mediterranean.

This can only be achieved by improving the rail network of the FERRMED Great Axis in line with the criteria we defend from this association.

For the involved Mediterranean harbours this would represent a very significant move forward in their traffic. It would also transform their entourage into first-level logistic and manufacturing platforms, including what that represents taking into account wealth generation.

In crisis situations, investments must be addressed where they are more profitable. In the case of Spain, this means abandoning the current radial model, redirect the investment in High Speed Railways to where there is enough traffic (for instance between Barcelona and Valencia) and invest, above all, in the Mediterranean Corridor.

We hope it will be done this way. We cannot afford the luxury to lose this great progress opportunity.

 

Joan Amorós

FERRMED Secretary General

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