Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Western Mediterranean branch of Freight Rail Great Axis

The FERRMED Association has alerted that DG MOVE, due to a possible lack of commitment by the Spanish Government in carrying out the necessary investments, is planning not to include in full the Spanish Mediterranean Corridor, following the entire coastline from the French borders to Algeciras, to the Trans-European Core Network.

The Spanish Minister of Development, while presenting the project of that corridor in Barcelona on 16th March 2011, he publicly pledged to have the whole Mediterraneant Network completed by 2020.

It seems, however, that an area covering the provinces of Cadiz, Malaga, Granada, Almeria, Murcia, Alacant, València, Castelló, Tarragona, Barcelona and Girona, which represent in Spain the:
  • 40% of the population and Gross Domestic Product
  • About 50% of agricultural production in value
  • about 55% of industrial production
  • 60% of exports
  • about 60% of inland freight traffic (more than 96% by road)
  • 65% of maritime traffic
  • about 70% of tourism
will not be included in full in the Central Trans-European Network (Core Network).

As FERRMED claims, there is the possibility that the southern part of this Corridor from Murcia to Algeciras will be excluded. If that is true, it is automatically certain that there will be a loss of important opportunities since the area connects North Africa with Europe and is one of the EU links supporting the largest intercontinental shipping in the world.

The Central-Atlantic Corridor in the Iberian Peninsula will be included in the EU Core Network. There is no  opposition to such a decision, but taking the Mediterranean Corridor as a whole is the most important corridor. It is the one that brings closer Scandinavia and Central Europe with North Africa (through the valleys of the Rhine and Rhone), by being the shortest route – saving about 500 km -, compared to any other option.

As specified in its definition, the "Trans-European Core Network" must be based on strategic and high-level socio-economic criteria, rather than short-term arguments, based on lack of political will and unprofitable policies.

In order to cover the targets of the Transport White Paper and to increase the future competitiveness of the EU, and in order to meet the objectives outlined in the Transport White Paper, the Spanish Mediterranean Corridor from the French border to Algeciras by the coast, must be included in the Central Trans-European Network.

This corridor is vital for the future developement of Catalonia. An independent Catalonia would invest in its part of this corridor that benefits the whole western mediterranean [see demostrative study].


What is the FERRMED Great Axis


Concept of the Freight Rail Great Axis Scandinavia-Rhine-Rhone-Western Mediterranean.

The rail network comprising of the FERRMED Great Axis includes the zone of most important economic and logistic activity, including the major ports and airports, of the European Union.

The main trunk of the Great Axis Network, -linking previosly Northern Sweden, Finalnd, Russia and Baltic States-, begins in Stockholm, crosses the Oresund and Fehmarn straits, and connects, in a fan-shaped manner, all the ports of the western Baltic Sea and the North Sea, as well as the United Kingdom and join together the major inland ports.

From Koblenz, the main trunk subdivides in two main branches:

  • The Western main branch, that passes through the Rhine and Rhone valleys -goes from one to another in Luxembourg and Metz- it moves along the western Mediterranean coast from Marseille and Genoa until Algeciras, approaches Morocco and Algeria; and interconnects, the most important East-West axes of the European Union.
  • The Eastern main branch, that from Koblenz goes on south by the Rhine Valley to Basel and Bern, and from Bern -crossing the Swiss Alps- to Milan, Torino, and Genoa.

FERRMED intended to establish the following standards:

  • Reticular and polycentric network with a great socio-economic and intermodal impact (comprising of three great North-South and three great East-West Trans-European axes, jointly with their corresponding subsidiary main feeder lines).
  • In the main branches of the great axes:
  • Electrified (preferentially 25.000 volts) conventional lines with double track, giving priority or exclusiveness to common freight traffic suitable for trains with per axle load of 22,5 ÷ 25 tons.
  • High performance parallel lines available for exclusive or preferential use of passenger and light fast moving freight transportation, properly connected with the main airports network.
  • Width of the tracks: UICUIC C loading gauge
  • Trains length reaching 1.500 meters and from 3600 to 5000 tons of loading capacity
  • The maximum slope of 0, 012 and limitation of the length of the ramps
  • Availability of a network of intermodal polyvalent and flexible terminals with high level of performance and competitiveness, based in the harbors and main logistic nodes of the great axes.
  • Usable length of sidings and terminals for 1500 m. trains.
  • Unified management and monitoring systems by main branches of every great axis.
  • ERTMS system with “two ways working” along the tracks.
  • Availability of capacity and traffic schedules for freight transportation “24 hours a day and 7 days a week”
  • Harmonization of the administrative formalities and the social legislation.
  • Transport system management shared with several rail operators (free competition)
  • Favorable fees for the use of infrastructures, bearing in mind the socioeconomic and environmental advantages of the railway.
  • Management philosophy based on the principles of the R+D+4i in the rail freight network, as an integral part of the global chain of added value.
  • Reduction of the environmental impact of the freight transporting system (particularly noise, vibration, and CO2 emissions) as a result of the retrofitting of the old railway rolling stock, infrastructural solutions where needed, and an increase in the share of the rail in long distance land transportation of up to 30÷35%.

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