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Brussels, 11 June 2009

Europe accelerates the ERTMS North-South rail freight axis

The European Union has today set an important step towards developing a North-South rail freight axis using the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). The Ministers of Transport from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria and Italy signed, in presence of the European Commission's Vice-President in charge of Transport Antonio Tajani, a letter of intent settling long term development objectives for the rail freight corridor "Stockholm – Copenhagen – Hamburg –Munich – Innsbruck - Verona –Naples".

"Establishing this cross-Europe rail freight axis will promote rail as an attractive option to transport goods over middle to long distances. It is another great example of Member States coming together to find a solution for transnational challenges. The signature of this Letter of Intent reflects a common commitment to work for the long term competitiveness of Rail freight across Europe. It involves major European infrastructure projects among which at first rank the Brenner Base Tunnel. Using ERTMS for this corridor will greatly facilitate the development of this axis," said Vice-President Tajani.

The rail freight corridor "Stockholm – Copenhagen – Hamburg – Munich – Innsbruck - Verona – Naples", otherwise called "Corridor B", was designed in 2006 as priority axis for the deployment of ERTMS in conventional rail.

ERTMS aims to replace more than 20 different national train control and command systems in Europe, which are a major technical barrier to international rail traffic. Today about 2,000 kilometres of tracks are equipped with ERTMS in Europe. The major European rail freight corridors, among which Corridor B, are expected to be equipped by 2020. Major freight hubs and terminals will also be connected to them by that same date.

The signature of a letter of intent represents the major first step towards the establishment of an ERTMS corridor. In the case of Corridor B, it sets objectives for the deployment of ERTMS 1 , to ensure the quick start up of commercial operations on all the corridor sections, to set up an appropriate coordination and governance scheme and to draw up a program of investments regarding ERTMS.

There are five other ERTMS corridors: Corridor A "Rotterdam – Duisburg – Basel – Genoa", Corridor C "Antwerp – Luxembourg - Basel/Lyon", Corridor D "Valencia – Lyon – Milan – Ljubljana - Budapest", Corridor E "Dresden – Prague – Budapest/Vienna - Constanta" and Corridor F "Aachen – Cracow/Warsaw - Terespol".

1 :

The Munich – Kufstein – Brenner/Brennero – Verona section should be equipped by 2015, and the sections "Stockholm – Copenhagen – Roedby – Hamburg", "Munich – Hamburg" and "Verona – Naples" by 2020.

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