Original publication: March 2016
Authors:  M-Five GmbH Mobility, Futures, Innovation, Economics: Wolfgang Schade, Werner Rothengatter, Simon Mader
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2JF1v2x

Background and aim

This note provides an overview of connectivity and accessibility of transport infrastructure in the Central and Eastern European EU Member States (CEMS) – ‘from north to south’: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. The note also highlights the major related issues and assesses the scope for improvements, including those related to the TEN-T policy and funding principles.

 

All CEMS are supported by TEN-T funds (CEF) and structural funds (ERDF and CF) with a view to improving their transport systems and connecting them better with the other Member States. Five of the new TEN-T ‘core network corridors’ (CNC) pass through them.

Findings

Three major gaps in connectivity have been identified by analysing the ‘work plans’ of the five ‘core network corridors’ concerned: (1) the missing North-South railway connection through the Baltic States and its linkage in Poland up to Warsaw with the EU railway network. (2) The triangle region between Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia suffers from gaps and bottlenecks, mainly in the rail network, but also in the case of a few road links. (3) The port of Koper suffers from insufficient hinterland connections by rail, leading inter alia to bottlenecks on the access roads. The work plans of the five CNCs report further bottlenecks.

Gaps and bottlenecks can also be identified by analysing long-distance travel times in CEMS and comparing them with travel times in the EU-15 Member States: on major connections, rail travel times in the EU-15 are twice to four times as fast as in the CEMS. In addition, using passenger rail transport for such major connections in the EU-15 is significantly faster than road transport, while in the CEMS the opposite is frequently true.

In terms of changes to the TEN-T guidelines two issues have been observed: (1) given the improved relationships with the Western Balkan countries consideration should be given to modifying the alignment of the Orient-East Med CNC to pass along a 300-km shorter route via Belgrade, connecting Greece with Hungary and Austria. (2) There should be an assessment of whether in Bulgaria and Romania there are ‘duly justified cases’ of sections for which it would be sufficient to implement them at lower standards than required by the TEN-T guidelines.

Areas with particularly weak accessibility have been identified in the Baltic States, in Northern Poland and to a lesser degree also in Eastern Poland, in the most eastern regions of Slovakia and Hungary, and in most of Bulgaria and Romania. If CEF co-funding is not applicable to such regions, the use of structural funds should be considered with a view to improving regional accessibility.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/573_419

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