TEN-T 2013-2020 has passed the test

TEN-T Network, source: European Commission

The TEN-T planning and decision-making process has been effective in helping the EU move towards efficient infrastructure. However, the objectives of greater sustainability and increased benefits for users still require a lot of attention.This is the conclusion of the European Commission in its evaluation of seven years of TEN-T. The evaluation was published on 26 May 2021. 

This evaluation was carried out at almost the half-way point between the starting date of the TEN-T Regulation in 2013 and the first key milestone of TEN-T policy – the completion of the core network in 2030. It assessed to what extent the implementation efforts so far have led to the results and benefits expected, and whether implementation is on track for meeting the 2030 and 2050 milestones. It also looked at whether the objectives and related standards and requirements are still relevant and coherent in view of the EU’s environmental ambitions.

TEN-T 2013-2020 succeeded

With the new TEN-T Regulation of 2013, came a shift of focus, from a largely priority-projects-based approach to a full-network approach. The change went smoothly, and did not disrupt the continuous development of transport infrastructure, according to the evaluation.

Key projects (notably the former priority projects, often in key geographical locations) remained vital elements of an overall European network. The additional strong focus on the functional side of the network, through a wide range of common standards and requirements, reinforced the link between infrastructure and transport policy objectives as well as service quality. All this suggests that the EU’s 2013-2020 TEN-T policy succeeded in supporting the development of the infrastructure needed for the EU to meet its wider transport policy objectives.

Work to be done

However, challenges to the way Europe’s transport system is organised, including pressure to reach ambitious climate objectives, to accelerate the digitalisation of transport and to meet changing user expectations, will place increasing demand on TEN-T policy towards 2030/2050.

Focusing only on a recalibration of certain standards or requirements would not be sufficient to meet the overall objectives of greening, digitalisation and modal shift; instead, an integrated network approach centred on interoperability and increased efficiency while addressing all shortcomings is needed, the evaluation reads. “This will help us meet the objectives and milestones set out in the European Green Deal and the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.”

Towards 2030

The evaluation also highlights a need for a thorough assessment of progress on the implementation of the projects, in particular the projects located on the core network, which should be completed by 2030. This assessment would enable the identification of possible measures to ensure completion of the network on time, and in line with EU standards.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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