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#DidYouKnow – Rail transport and the development of the Iberian Peninsula as a Hub – Atlantic Corridor

Should Spain and Portugal jointly boost investment in infrastructure of rail transport? This is a question that is currently on the minds of the operators and actors active in the rail transport sector on the Iberian peninsula. To coincide with the European Union’s goals on sustainable development, the sector still has a long way to go to garner a portion of the market share currently occupied by maritime and road transport.

“The Portuguese and Spanish governments should increase their budgets for rail and port infrastructure” is the European Commission’s recommendation. Portuguese ports are considered as potential European import hubs because of their geographical location on the Atlantic coast. In this context, investment in port and rail infrastructure should be encouraged. The European rail system transports around 1.6 billion tonnes of goods each year. Rail transport is fundamental to the European Union’s strategy for a more sustainable transport sector, for economic and social cohesion and for connecting European countries within and between Member States.

Some of the main European modal corridors link Portugal and Spain, thus contributing to the improvement of connections between the centre of the EU and its peripheral regions, whilst strengthening the position of the Iberian Peninsula as a portal to Western Europe.

There are two main European corridors entering the Iberian Peninsula: the Atlantic Corridor and the Mediterranean Corridor. Looking at the Spanish rail network, we have the Atlantic corridor, which connects the French border of Irun/Hendaye with Portugal via Vitoria, Burgos and Valladolid, with a branch that goes south via Madrid, Lisbon and the port of Algeciras. The Mediterranean Corridor runs from the French border at Portbou/Cerbère to the port of Algeciras and Seville along the Mediterranean coast, through Barcelona and Valencia. In  Portugal, the Atlantic Corridor begins in Lisbon and the port of Sines, then moves eastwards through Spain (through Badajoz-Elvas). Another branch goes to Aveiro and Porto, and then moves eastwards to Spain through Vilar Formoso-Salamanca.

“The mission of the Atlantic Corridor principally covers the management of existing infrastructures, without additional investments, through centralized management of capacity allocation, traffic management and costumer relationship.” This project arose with the common objective of the governments of Portugal, Spain, France and Germany to increase the competitiveness and modal share of international rail freight transport and to jointly overcome technical and operational barriers. The Atlantic Corridor is integrated into the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and is connected to the Mediterranean Corridor and the North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor. The extension of the Atlantic Corridor to Germany will allow direct connections with two other corridors, namely the Rhine-Alps and the future Rhine-Danube.

With a total length of more than 6,200 km, the main heterogeneous technical characteristics in terms of infrastructure that need to be improved stand out: the presence of the European gauge (1435 mm) in France and Germany and the larger Iberian gauge (1668 mm) in Portugal and Spain; electrified sections with differing voltages; and different signaling systems. The aim of the Atlantic Corridor is to coordinate investment in order to homogenize the technical characteristics of the infrastructures throughout the participating countries in this project.

EU railways continue to grow. Rail markets are gradually opening up and safety levels remain high. This sector is increasingly demanding more innovation and responsiveness to customer needs. Rail transport’s fight to increase its modal share continues to center around interoperability and cross-border coordination issues. Corridors are essential elements of the Commission’s policy to boost rail freight transport. If the sector can convince haulers to opt for rail motorways to reduce costs, and exporters and importers to transport their freight to ports by rail, it is very likely to grow in the coming years and thus continue to align itself with the EU’s mission towards the sustainable development of transport on the continent.

Intrigued? The Escola will delve into these and other railway related subjects in great depth during the upcoming Port2Rail course, set to take place in October 2019. Check out the course programme here.

Written by:

  • Raquel Nunes, Training Programmes & External Relations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

Railway connectivity is the key to boosting the Spanish port system

During the month of April the Spanish Ministry of Development (Fomento) requested the EU for funding to help support the transfer of goods from the road to the railway. The Port of Valencia will allocate this investment to the rail connection between Zaragoza and Sagunto, the new line between the ports of Seville and Sines, and the restructuring of SNCF in France.

Statistics published in the fourth month of the year showed that rail freight traffic in Spain has grown 6% in 2017, good news for the sector, although the figures of Renfe Mercancías for February 2018 are not as positive. In this regard, the operator has registered a 17% drop, to which all its traffic except intermodal have contributed.

This fact contrasts with the conclusions reached by the Corell Foundation, which argues that the differences in regulation and costs between the different modes of transport currently prevent a truly competitive and efficient intermodal transport system from being implemented in Spain.

In this regard, the Ministry of Development still awaits the approval of the European Commission to be able to include annual funding worth 25 million euros to facilitate the modal transfer of goods from the road to the railway in the budgets for 2018. Brussels has already given its approval to the subsidies proposed by Sweden, having considered them in accordance with the EU rules on state financing.

On the other hand, CETM Multimodal, Railgrup and Feteia-Oltra have signed an agreement in April to promote innovative projects in the field of multimodal transport.

Port and Railway Connections

Also in Spain, Adif will increase the carrying capacity on the line between Zaragoza, Teruel and Sagunto, a line in which the Port Authority of Valencia plans to invest around 100 million euros, of which one part will be allocated to rail access to Port of Sagunto.

Its objective is to attract more traffic from Aragon, which only uses its facilities to channel 16% of its maritime exports. Currently, the region finds its main outlet in the shores in Catalonia, and it is in the Port of Barcelona where 61% of the rail traffic has Aragón as its origin or destination.

In the south, MSC has already started the service between the ports of Seville and Sines, with a frequency of two round trips per week and a capacity of about 100 TEUs for each one. Meanwhile, in Cádiz, the City Council and the Port Authority have signed an agreement to connect the new container terminal of the port using the railroad.

In addition, in Vigo, the Port Authority and Adif will work on the definition of the project connecting the vehicle terminal with the railway. As for the future line that will link the city with Portugal, it was announced that it will admit the passage of trains of 750 meters.

Changes at the European level

Another neighboring country, France, has been in the news due to the restructuring of the SNCF public railway company, which has caused a wave of mobilizations among the unions for what they consider a privatization of the operator.

The plan involves the recapitalization of the 4,300 million euros debt accumulated by the merchandise subsidiary, to form an independent company, wholly owned by SNCF, but segregated from SNCF Logistics. To finance this whole process, the Gallic government plans to tax heavy vehicles, a measure that has been rejected by transport associations.

Both Spain and France continue to make progress in the implementation of railway motorways along the Atlantic and Mediterranean axes. In fact, the call for expressions of interest addressed to those interested in the exploitation of this type of service has already been officially published.

At the European level, it is worth mentioning the initiative of the Ferrmed Association, which has set up three multisectoral work groups to improve the infrastructure, operation and mobile material in the Trans-European Rail Network to reduce transport costs by more than 25% .

Source: Cadena de Suministro.

Marrakesh: North African transport professionals introduced to TransLogMED by the Escola Europea

The Escola’s efforts to continue to promote the ambitious TransLogMED project across the Mediterranean waters go further next week as its staff travels to Marrakesh to participate in the 7th edition of the International Logistics and Transport Tradeshow LOGISMED, from 9th to 11th May.

Being the largest landmark logistics trade show in Morocco, and having ascertained itself over the last 7 years as the largest gathering of transport and logistics professionals in Africa and the Mediterranean, LOGISMED proves the perfect venue to introduce the objectives and goals of the TransLogMED project to the visitors. The Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport will promote the project in its own booth, positioned next to one of its partners and stakeholders, Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV) (section D, booths D1 and D2).

The project office is also holding the TransLogMED project’s Action Committee in Marrakesh on the second day of the show, bringing together the project’s stakeholders and reviewing the past year’s accomplishments. During the meeting an overview of the goals for the current year will be listed, separated by the different participating countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, and Egypt).

From the 7th to the 9th May, Eduard Rodés, the director of the Escola, will introduce the project at the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Conference on Maritime Transport and Logistics which will take place in Ismailia, Egypt.

Among the project’s to-date achievements, the director of the Escola highlighted the huge success of the MOST (Motorways of the Sea Training) Tunis edition, which took place in April 2018. The course was organised jointly with the Institut Méditerranéen de Formation aux Métiers Maritimes, with the help of the Escola’s usual collaborators (Port of Barcelona, Ports of Genoa, Ports of Rome, Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV) and Grimaldi Lines) and the Office of the Merchant Navy (l’Office de la Marine Marchande), Cotunav, Stam and Transglory. The training was carried out on board of two vessels, one from GNV and the other from Cotunav, and took place on the short sea shipping crossing between La Goulette and Genoa.

The long-term objective of TransLogMED is to foster the development of the motorways of the Sea between the Mediterranean countries, which will in turn help promote inclusive growth and youth employability, as well as sustainable development in the region. The project focuses in particular on: Increasing efficiency in logistics and transport, particularly in door to door and platform to platform multimodal solutions; Enhancing the competencies and capabilities of the transport and logistics operators; and creating a knowledge network as the activities become regular, together with a best practices exchange platform that brings together experts from both Northern and Southern Mediterranean countries. The project took off in 2017 and will finish in 2021.

For more information you can consult the project page https://www.escolaeuropea.eu/projects/translogmed/ and the Escola’s website https://escolaeuropea.eu or write to info@escolaeuropea.eu.

Spain and France advance the road map to implement the railway motorways

Companies that choose to operate in the Mediterranean and Atlantic corridors have until July 16 to submit their bids.

The Spanish Minister of Development, Iñigo de la Serna, and the French Minister of Transport, Elisabeth Borne, have celebrated the publication of the two calls for proposals of common interest concerning the establishment of railway motorway services (ferroutage) along the Atlantic and Mediterranean axes.
These expressions of interest are a continuation of those made in 2017 and are aimed at the manufacturers of rolling stock, within the framework of the roadmap approved by the Spanish-French work group on railway motorways, to identify the technical solutions that will allow the transport of road semi-trailers by rail.

This publication confirms the commitment of Spain and France to discuss the development of the two corridors, to favor the modal shift, and to establish and reinforce these alternative services to the transport of goods by road.

These consultancies refer to the itineraries that connect the Northwest (Vitoria) and the East of Spain (Valencia-Murcia) with the North and the East of France (Calais / Lille / Metz) or even further: via Irún, Bordeaux and Paris on the Atlantic Corridor, on the one hand; and via Barcelona, Avignon and Lyon along the Mediterranean Corridor, on the other. Both axes can allow a service with Ile-de-France.

These calls for expressions of interest are aimed at stimulating the initiatives of industrial actors “by providing answers and operational solutions for these services”. Interested companies have until July 16, 2018 to submit their offers.

The report prepared by the two States, which is incorporated into the current consultations, specifies the characteristics and functionalities of the materials proposed by the five designers and manufacturers who responded to the consultation. “The development of truck transport services by rail is an essential element for improving the sustainability of freight transport, according to a joint publication of both ministries, which is one of the priorities of the two States brought forth by the significant volume of traffic of trucks along the two corridors, on the borders of Perthus and Biriatou. “

On the other hand, the two countries welcome the support of their initiative on behalf of the European Union, especially along the Atlantic axis, with the financial support of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Finally, the ministers agree that “this joint positioning on the railway motorways is in full consonance with the desire to intensify the Franco-Spanish cooperation in the field of transport of freight, promoting the use of environmentally friendly solutions. It is also an illustration of the governments’ conviction that rail freight, especially along these main corridors, is a solution for the future.”

Source: El Vigia

Port-railway connections remain key for the development of rail transport

The third month of the year saw the beginning of new railway connections in Spanish ports and the start-up of different projects linked to intermodality, while the works of the Mediterranean Corridor continue to advance.

The month of March has brought very good news for Renfe, which in 2017 achieved net profits for the first time without taking extraordinary income into account (specifically, 70 million euros). In addition, after receiving the PQQ pre-qualification passport, it can now participate in the railway competitions in the United Kingdom, which currently has the most competitive and liberalized rail market in Europe.

Its merchandise division has managed to balance its EBITDA to a negative figure of 0.9 million euros, 7.71 million more than in 2016. However, its traffic has shown a decrease of 5% in the first months of 2018, especially due to the fall in metric width movements.

On the other hand, Spanish ports continue to maintain their commitment to rail connections. In the third month of the year the first direct service for the transport of vehicles from Germany was started, operated by DB Cargo, sharing the leading role with the Medway line between the ports of Seville (Spain) and Sines (Portugal), with a capacity of of more than 100 TEUs per trip.

In addition, the Port Authority of Cartagena has given the green light at the beginning of the record for the improvement of the Escombreras railway terminal, and the fourth weekly intermodal rail service between the Intermodal Terminal of Navarra, located in Noáin, and the BEST terminal in the Port of Barcelona has been launched.

Intermodal terminals and the Mediterranean Corridor

In this context, it is necessary to point out that the Navarrese administration plans to promote the intermodal nodes of Noáin-Imárcoain and Tudela-Castejón within the framework of its logistics strategy 2018-2028, while Spanish Ministry of Development (Fomento) and the Junta de Extremadura will work on the development of three new intermodal freight terminals in Cáceres and Badajoz.

Likewise, work has begun on installing the first section of the 750-meter lane of the three branches that the Miranda Container Terminal will have in Burgos, at the initiative of JSV Logistic. Cimalsa is immersed in a project to promote intermodality in the cross-border transport of goods between France and Catalonia.

Regarding the connections with France, another issue that has continued to be debated in March is the reopening of Canfranc, which would boost the traffic of the Maritime Terminal of Zaragoza, with a total movement of 180,000 containers per year.

In March, the development of the Mediterranean Corridor has also advanced, since Adif has been awarded the contract for the project to connect in the standard width the multimodal platform of La Llagosta, in Barcelona, with this infrastructure.

Nevertheless, in the south of Spain a demand to boost this section of the corridor, with the same benefits for the coastal branch as for the interior, meaning a double platform across its entirety from the French border all the way to Andalusia.

Source: Cadena de Suministro