Decarbonising one of Europe's busiest transport routes - EU monitor

EU monitor
Thursday, November 21, 2019
calendar
Source: V. (Violeta) Bulc i, published on Friday, June 3 2016.

This week I was happy to attend the opening of the Gotthard base tunnel, a historical moment for rail traffic in Europe. The tunnel under the Alps will help us shift more traffic from road to rail. Development of modern, sustainable transport infrastructure that reduces the environmental burden and at the same time benefits people and businesses is one of my priorities.

The new Gotthard tunnel will help decarbonise one of Europe's busiest transport routes, and the EU is at the same time investing in several other infrastructural projects in the Alpine region to support this process.

At 57 kilometres in length, the Gotthard tunnel is the longest rail tunnel in the world. It is an engineering masterpiece and as an engineer myself, I commend the work of the Swiss. The rail tunnel will bring major benefits for freight traffic and will increase the capacity and competitiveness of European rail transport. It will allow for around 50% more passenger and freight trains to pass through the Gotthard every day. Trains could be longer and heavier, and will be able to travel at the speeds up to 250km/h, which will result in considerably shorter journey times - thanks to the tunnel, a train ride from Zurich to Milano will now be 30 minutes quicker.

Improving the rail transit across the Alps is one of the priorities of both the EU and the Swiss transport policy. The Rhine-Alpine Corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network ( TEN-T) constitutes one of the busiest freight routes of Europe, connecting the North Sea ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp to the Mediterranean basin, via major economic centres in Western Germany, Switzerland and Milan. The capacity of the rail Alpine crossings is expected to increase by 59% by 2030, shifting 13% of road cargo traffic to rail, and the new Gotthard tunnel will greatly contribute to the decarbonisation of the trans-Alpine transport. Later this year, the Commission will adopt a Communication on the decarbonisation of transport, where we will recognise, among others, the importance of modal shift towards more sustainable modes.

To satisfy the needs of business and people, and to ensure a more sustainable future for the cross-Alpine transport, the EU is investing in complementary Alpine crossings: Brenner between Austria and Italy and Lyon-Turin between France and Italy. The construction of Brenner crossing is supported by the EU with 1.18 billion €. Once completed in 2026, the traffic will increase considerably, from the current 240 trains per day to 591. Similarly, the Lyon-Turin crossing, a link between Western and central Europe, received 813 million € of support. At the same time, the EU is prioritising investment on the access routes to the Swiss Alpine crossings in order to make the full use of the additional capacity created by the newly constructed tunnels.

EU transport infrastructure needs amount to 700 billion € until 2030, out of which 430bn for rail alone. Of course, national public funding cannot match these needs and therefore it is a priority of the Commission to bridge this investment gap in Europe. There are several instruments available to fund transport projects, such as Connecting Europe Facility ( CEF), European Structural and Investment Funds ( ESIFs), European Investment Bank lending and European Fund for Strategic Investment ( EFSI). Especially the latter has proven to be a very successful instrument for financing transport projects: to date, 11 projects were approved in the transport sector, combining more than 5 billion € investment and creating at least 60.000 jobs. It is a big opportunity for the Member states to finance otherwise expensive infrastructural projects. That way, we can build clearer, sustainable and efficient transport network in Europe that helps businesses and serves the needs of people.

Razogljičenje ene izmed najprometnejših poti v Evropi

Ta teden sem se udeležila otvoritve predora Gotthard, ki predstavlja zgodovinski trenutek za evropski železniški promet. Tunel pod Alpami bo pomagal preusmeriti več prometa iz cest na železnice. Razvoj moderne, trajnostne prometne infrastrukture, ki zmanjšuje negativne vplive na okolje in ob enem pomaga ljudem in gospodarstvu, je ena izmed mojih prioritet. Nov predor Gotthard bo močno pomagal pri razogljičenju ene izmed najbolj obremenjenih prometnih poti v Evropi, EU pa hkrati vlaga v vrsto drugih infrastrukturnih projektov v Alpah, ki bodo ta proces podprli.

Z dolžino 57 kilometrov je Gotthard najdaljši predor na svetu. Izgradnja takšnega projekta je tehnološki presežek in sama kot inženir občudujem delo Švicarjev. Predor prinaša velike prednosti za tovorni železniški promet in bo močno povečal konkurenčnost evropskih železnic. Omogočil bo več kot 50% povečanje obsega potniškega in tovornega prometa skozi Alpe. Poleg tega bodo vlaki lahko daljši in težji, vozili pa bodo lahko s hitrostmi do 250km/h, kar bo čas potovanja med Milanom in Zürichom skrajšalo za pol ure.

Izboljšanje železniških povezav preko Alp je prioriteta prometnih politik tako Švice kot EU. Rensko-alpski koridor v omrežju TEN-T je ena izmed najbolj obremenjenih prometnih poti v Evropi, saj povezuje pristanišči v Rotterdamu in Antwerpu z mediteranskim bazenom, pri tem pa prečka velika gospodarska središča v zahodni Nemčiji, Švici in Milanu. Pričakujemo, da se bo kapaciteta železniškega prometa preko Alp do 2030 povečala za 59%, kar bo na železnice preusmerilo 13% sedanjega cestnega prometa, k čemer bo močno prispeval tudi nov predor Gotthard. Razogljičenje je tudi ena izmed prioritet mojega mandata, zato bo Evropska komisija letos izdala sporočilo o razogljičenju prometa, v katerem kot bistvo politike trajnostnega prevoza prepoznavamo pomen preusmeritve cestnega prometa k okolju prijaznejšim vrstam.

Ker želimo zadovoljiti potrebe ljudi in gospodarstva ter zagotoviti bolj trajnostno ureditev čez-alpskega prometa, EU vlaga v izgradnjo dodatnih Alpskih prehodov: Brenner med Avstijo in Italijo ter Lyon-Turin med Francijo in Italijo. Prehod Brenner, ki ga je EU podprla z 1.18 milijardami € sredstev, bo dokončan leta 2026 in bo močno povečal prehodnost vlakov - iz sedanjih 240 na dan na kar 591. Izgradnjo prehoda Lyon-Turin, povezave med zahodno in srednjo Evropo, je EU podprla z 813 milijoni €. Prav tako podpiramo investicije v posodobitev in razširitev dostopnih poti do novega predora Gotthard, ki bodo omogočile, da maksimalno izkoristimo povečano zmogljivost železniškega prometa čez Alpe.

Prometna infrastruktura v EU do leta 2030 potrebuje 700 milijard € invsticij, od tega samo železnice 430 milijard. Jasno je, da države teh sredstev z javnim denarjem niso sposobne zagotoviti, zato je premostitev investicijskega primanjkljaja ena glavnih nalog Komisije. EU ponuja različne instrumente, ki so primerni za financiranje projektov iz prometnega sektorja: Connecting Europe Facility ( CEF), European Structural and Investment Funds ( ESIFs), posojila Evropske investicijske banke ter Evropski sklad za strateške naložbe ( EFSI). Ravno zadnji se je v prejšnjem letu izkazal kot zelo primeren za financiranje projektov v prometu: podprtih je bilo 11 projektov, kar skupaj pomeni 5 milijard € investicij in vsaj 60.000 zaposlitev. Gre za veliko priložnost, ki jo lahko države članice izkoristijo za financiranje sicer dragih projektov na področju prometa. Le tako lahko zagotovimo primerno infrastrukturo in storitve, potrebne za razvoj čistejšega, trajnostno naravnanega in efektivnega prometnega omrežja, ki bo služilo potrebam ljudi in gospodarstva.