The European Commission has set out plans to spend £28 billion to upgrade Europe’s transport infrastructure, build missing links and remove bottlenecks.
The Connecting Europe Facility includes £9bn fenced in the Cohesion Fund for transport projects in the cohesion countries, with the remaining £19bn available for all member states for investing in transport infrastructure.
The aim is to transform the existing patchwork of European roads, railways, airports and canals into a unified transport network (TEN-T).
European Commission vice-president Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said it would involve connecting:
* 83 main European ports with rail and road links
* 37 key airports with rail connections into major cities
* 15,000 km of railway line upgraded to high speed
* 35 cross-border projects to reduce bottlenecks
In the UK the TEN-T network will include the major axis of UK in the comprehensive and core network, linking its the ports (notably Southampton and Felixstowe) with its many nodes. The High Speed 2 rail project will form part of the network if it get the go-ahead.
“Transport is fundamental to an efficient EU economy, but vital connections are currently missing. Europe’s railways have to use 7 different gauge sizes and only 20 of our major airports and 35 of our major ports are directly connected to the rail network. Without good connections Europe will not grow or prosper,” said Kallas.
Transport systems in Europe have traditionally developed along national lines. The Commission proposed to create corridors to cover the most important cross-border projects.
It has estimated that by 2020, £436bn will be needed to realise a real European network, including £218bn for removing bottlenecks and completing missing links in the core network.