The EU Council presidency and European Parliament’s negotiators have reached a provisional agreement on a revised TEN-T regulation regarding EU guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network. The new legislation aims to build a reliable, seamless, and high-quality transport network that ensures sustainable connectivity across Europe without physical interruptions, bottlenecks, and missing links.
“The agreement is a milestone for better and sustainable connectivity in Europe. The guidelines on the TEN-T network are a key instrument of the EU’s transport policy which will contribute greatly to strengthening the EU’s cohesion and to stimulating growth and jobs,” Óscar Puente, Spanish minister of transport and sustainable mobility said.
The 3-layer approach of the Commission proposal was maintained with the TEN-T network being developed or modernised in three phases: until 2030 for the core network, 2040 for the extended core and 2050 for the comprehensive network. The new intermediary deadline of 2040 was introduced to advance the completion of large-scale, mainly cross-border projects, such as missing rail connections, ahead of the 2050 deadline that applies to the wider, comprehensive network.
To ensure infrastructure planning meets real operational needs and by integrating rail, road, and waterways, the new regulation also creates nine European Transport Corridors (ETC), which are of the highest strategic importance for the development of sustainable and multimodal freight and passenger transport flows in Europe.
The co-legislators agreed the provisions on the deployment of the ERTMS on the extended core and comprehensive network, the migration to European standard track gauge, the increase of the number of 740-meter-long freight trains and the 160 km/h minimum line speed for passenger trains.
Furthermore, the provisional agreement on the revised TEN-T regulation provides for the inclusion of operational requirements for rail freight corridors as they are considered inseparable from infrastructure requirements. Overall, the compromise agreement ensures better and faster connections for passengers and freight by rail, as well as better integration of ports, airports, and multimodal freight terminals in the TEN-T network.
The agreement on the revised TEN-T regulation also includes the urban nodes which will strengthen the urban layer of the TEN-T policy. It was therefore agreed that a sustainable urban mobility plan (SUMP), which is a long-term, all-encompassing integrated freight and passenger mobility plan for the entire functional urban area, should be established by 2027 for each urban node. The plan could include objectives, targets and indicators underpinning the current and future performance of the urban transport system. All 424 major cities along the TEN-T network are required to develop SUMPs to promote zero-emission mobility and to increase and improve public transport and infrastructure for walking and cycling. In addition, the co-legislators maintained the obligation to have at least one multimodal freight terminal per urban node by 31 December 2040, where economically viable.
MEPs secured more focus on intermodal transport undertaken primarily by rail, inland waterways or short-sea shipping. This will be reinforced by electrified railways in the core TEN-T network, running at speeds of 160 km/h for passenger rail and 100 km/h for freight, and crossing internal EU borders in less than 25 minutes on average by the end of 2030. In addition, EU railways will have to migrate to the European standard nominal track gauge (1435 mm) and by the end of 2040 switch to a single traffic management system.
To ensure the seamless transfer of military troops and equipment, MEPs convinced EU governments to take into account military needs (weight or size of military transport) when constructing or upgrading infrastructure that overlaps with military transport network. Within one year after the entry into force of these new rules, the Commission will have to conduct a study on short-notice large-scale movements across the EU, to facilitate military mobility planning.
The agreed text also cuts transport infrastructure projects with Russia and Belarus and instead reinforces transport links with Ukraine and Moldova. To mitigate the security risk coming from non-EU businesses participation in major TEN-T projects, member states shall inform the European Commission of measures adopted to mitigate such risk, the deal says. The revised TEN-T regulation extends four European Transport Corridors of the TEN-T network to Ukraine and Moldova.
The provisional agreement maintains the overall ambition of developing a coherent, connected, and high-quality transport infrastructure across the EU whilst considering the various starting points in member states, as well as their priorities and approaches towards a greener transport. Member states will decide how to prioritise projects of common interest in line with realistic technical and priority requirements aiming to a unified, high-performant, and fully interoperable infrastructure to contribute to the decarbonisation of the transport sector and its multimodality. These requirements, as set out by the new regulation, are proportionate to the expected benefits, to the functionalities and to the required investments by the member states. The provisional agreement also takes into account the available financial resources of the member states, as well as the investment needs for infrastructure development, which could be quite considerable, in particular on the comprehensive TEN-T network.