Business insights

The power of cooperation to promote freight corridors in Europe

The power of cooperation to promote freight corridors in Europe

Discover Dirk Stahl, President ERFA-European Rail Freight Association and CEO BLS Cargo AG’s point of view on the importance of freight corridors across Europe and how they can be supported through effective cooperation among international institutions and accurate investments in infrastructures. Technology is one  of the key elements for the success of European innovation and improvement activities the railway sector.

read time

Coordinated procedures and modern infrastructure will be the starting point for the success of freight corridors, crossing local borders and crating seamless transport flows

Which strategies do you advocate to achieve rail priorities and what role do European partnerships play in this? 

We need to think more holistically and pan-European. The supply chain and the resulting flows of goods are global and cross-border. In contrast, rail infrastructure managers are often still strongly oriented toward state borders.

Rail freight transport must work as consistently and simply across national borders as road transport. This is currently not the case as we face strong delays in infrastructure investments, a lot of infrastructure restrictions due to planned construction works and unplanned disruptions and also some infrastructure management failures as for example international construction work planning, which needs to be professionalised.

As railway undertakings and associations we are in close contact with the transport ministries and the infrastructure managers to address our demands and are getting into constructive discussions. To establish this overall cross-border thinking, we need strong European partnerships between governments, transport policy makers and infrastructure managers. Then I am confident that we can bring rail freight to success. 

What is the role of “corridors” and what are the advantages that can be achieved through knowledge of these routes (i.e. the Alpine route)?

The concept of international rail freight corridors is a good one, because it relates to the transport flows and does not stop at boarders. So I strongly support this corridor approach.

Dirk Stahl, President ERFA-European Rail Freight Association and CEO BLS CargoAlso Switzerland is part of the Rhine Alpine Corridor and strongly contributes with large investments to the The New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA) (Lötschberg, Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels). With these investments we virtually have a flat railroad through Switzerland, along which productivity is highly increased and there is sufficient infrastructure capacity for rail freight. But of course it can only play its full effect if the infrastructure capacity is increased on the whole corridor.

So here we need international coordination to identify bottlenecks and organise an overall definition of infrastructure parameters (750m trains, P400, ERTMS) and investment plan. For this I would like to increase the role of the EU Commission to control national governments to keep promised timelines and promised financing.

The example of ERTMS implantation which started 2005 and will be concluded on main corridors not before 2030 is unfortunately not a success model, as a lot of investment and costs have been passed on to railway undertakings for years now, but benefits will only set in if ERTMS is fully harmonised, fully implemented and other signalling systems are obsolete, which will not be the case before 2030. But what is important is that we can learn from these examples for future steps in shaping the Single European Rail Market.

or contact us to discover more.

Francesco Moretti - Fincons Group Francesco Moretti

Fincons Group

Group Deputy CEO and CEO International