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Brussels, 26 May 2009

TEN-T : Corridor A – Priority rail axis n°24

The so-called priority rail axis n°24, linking Lyon/Genoa, Basel, Duisburg and Rotterdam/Antwerp, was designed in 2004 as part of the development of the trans-European network for transport. It includes both conventional and high-speed passenger transport as well as freight transport. Additionally to the Rotterdam – Genoa axis, priority rail axis covers the Antwerp – Duisburg/Cologne freight section and the Mulhouse – Lyon high-speed line.

The rail freight corridor between Rotterdam and Genoa is one of the six major rail freight corridors designed as priority axis for the deployment of the European rail traffic management system (ERTMS) on conventional rail. The other five are Corridor B "Stockholm – Munich – Verona - Naples", Corridor C "Antwerp – Luxembourg - Basel/Lyon", Corridor D "Valencia – Lyon – Milan – Ljubljana - Budapest", Corridor E "Dresden – Praha – Budapest/Vienna - Constanta" and Corridor F "Aachen – Cracow/Warsaw - Terespol".

ERTMS – Towards a safe and competitive international rail service

ERTMS aims at replacing more than 20 different national train control and command systems in Europe, which are a major technical barrier to international rail traffic. Standardising the multiple signalling systems in use will bring increased competitiveness and better interacting of freight and passenger rail services. It will also stimulate the European rail-equipment market, reduce costs and improve the overall quality of rail transport. The aims of ERTMS fall therefore within the overall scope of our Lisbon strategy.

Today, around 2000 km of tracks are equipped with ERTMS in Europe. The major European rail freight corridors, first of which Corridor A, are expected to be equipped by 2020. Major freight hubs and terminals will also be connected to them by that same date. 

Major sections along the priority rail axis n°24

The Port of Rotterdam and hinterland rail freight through the Betuwe Line

The Port of Rotterdam stands at third in world rankings behind Shanghai and Singapore and is the first European port, coming before Antwerp and Hamburg. Goods throughput in the port of Rotterdam increased in 2008 by 2.9% to the record level of 421 million tonnes.

Around 76% of this throughput is devoted to the hinterland, thereby making hinterland freight haulage a crucial issue. Rail share represents 13% of the goods leaving the port of Rotterdam, compared to 57% for road and around 30% for inland waterways.

Most of the goods carried by rail leave the port of Rotterdam through the Betuwe Line, put into service in June 2007.

From the Port of Antwerp to Germany

The yearly throughput of the port of Antwerp has increased since 2004 by 24.4%, achieving 198, 4 million tons in 2008.

As for today, there are two major north–south rail routes for rail freight haulage leaving the port of Antwerp. Rail freight corridor C links Antwerp to Basel and Lyon through Luxembourg. A second route included in priority rail axis n°24 links Antwerp to Duisburg and Cologne, where it joins rail freight corridor A.

Through the Alps to Italy

Priority railway axis n°24 crosses the Alps through the Gotthard, the Lötschberg and the Simplon tunnel in Switzerland.

Significant capacity improvements are to be expected, in particular for rail freight, when the Gotthard Base tunnel and the Monte Ceneri Base tunnel will have been completed respectively in 2017 and 2019.

Linking Switzerland and Central Germany to the Mediterranean through high-speed passenger service

The high-speed line Rhine-Rhone, as part of the priority axis n°24, links Lyon to Mulhouse and connects further to the Swiss network. In the future, it will also connect to the German network either through Mülheim or Strasbourg. The completion of the 140 km long first section between Dijon and Mulhouse, by the end of 2011, will reduce travel times, with estimates reaching around 5h15 from Lyon to Frankfurt in 2012, instead of 6h30 today.

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