Recommendations in Consequence of the Rastatt Tunnel Incident

The EGTC and its members strive for strengthening and coordinating the integrated development of the Rhine-Alpine Corridor as it is laid down in its Joint Strategy . This implies also supporting activities leading to a modal shift from road to rail and waterways, as well as activities reducing the negative impact of transport for the citizens.

The incident at the Rastatt tunnel construction site led to a closure of the railway section Rastatt – Baden-Baden from 12 August to 2 October 2017. This incident caused the disruption of the major international Rhine-Alpine Corridor with a tremendous impact and it undermined the EGTC’s objectives.

Emerged problems:

Although the accident occurred during less frequented months at summer season (150 instead of 200 trains a day), both freight and passenger transport were strongly affected. Alternative freight routes in Germany, France and Austria became accessible only gradually and with limited capacity. Hence, customer confidence in rail transport has been severely damaged.

Key problems identified are:

  • The closure of only a small stretch of railway line leads to enormous consequences to the entire and interdependent Corridor;
  • Incident has exposed rail as the weak part of the integrated and intermodal logistics chain;
  • A lack of communication with other modes of transport in order to redirect freight;
  • Limited use of the synchro modality concept, allowing to decide day-by-day about which mode to choose for a specific transport task;
  • Coordination of construction planning along the Corridor and its neighbouring areas needs to be improved;
  • Lack of viable and economically efficient alternatives for re-routing;
  • ational technical and staff requirements with divergent standards proved to be an obstacle for seamless international transport.

Recommendations and necessary actions:

In line with the first development priority formulated in its Joint Strategy, the EGTC underlines the necessity of an improved Corridor wide coordination of infrastructure works and construction management. This includes the timely information on planned line closures or restrictions in order to provide for resilient and seamless transport operations. However, also operational accidents, natural hazards or any other kinds of incidents have to be considered.

Three steps for improvement:

  1. A prevailing consequence of the Rastatt incident is the necessity to ensure resilience for the Corridor. Therefore, we ask for a comprehensive risk analysis for the Corridor concerning main and alternatives routes, involving all relevant logistics stakeholders;
  2. On this basis, emergency plans for different risk scenarios need to be elaborated jointly, including relevant stakeholders and experts from all countries along the Corridor. Such plans should comprise adequate pre-defined alternative routes, fit for immediate use in case of necessity, applying the synchro modality approach.
  3. Finally, in order to implement the emergency plans, we suggest to establish an effective crisis management, which is ready for action if needed.

Furthermore, the following issues need to be taken in consideration:

  • Improvements for (EU) investments and funding to reduce bottlenecks, also for alternative routes (TEN-T core and comprehensive routes);
  • Harmonisation of standards in order to overcome national restrictions in regard to technical and staff incompatibilities and limitations;
  • Ensure interoperability along the Corridor, e.g. ETCS equipment also for alternative railway lines;
  • Use the existing Rhine-Alpine Corridor Forum as a platform for facilitating mutual information and coordination.

Madame Trautmann Welcomes the EGTC in Strasbourg

Madame Trautmann, President of the Port of Strasbourg and European Corridor Coordinator for the North Sea – Baltic Sea Corridor welcomed the EGTC to its 6th Assembly Meeting in Strasbourg on 6 November 2017. The dense programme of the day included an overview of projects and initiatives in the Rhine-Alpine Corridor and a fruitful discussion on the position paper of the EGTC to the concequences from the Rastatt Tunnel incident from August 2017.

The EGTC position paper was also consulted with the Advisory Board of the EGTC that gathered later in the afternoon to its 2nd meeting. Besides valuable feedback to the paper, members of the Advisory Board also gave interesting presentations on their Activities. The EGTC members in turn, presented their ongoing projects VitalNodes (Horizon 2020), RAISE-IT (CEF) and ERFLS (CEF).

Project “Vital Nodes” approved

Another project with involvement of our EGTC has been approved! “VITALNODES – Building a lasting expert network that delivers evidence-based recommendations for Vital Urban Nodes along TEN-T Corridors” submitted under the Horizon 2020 programme under the lead of Rijkswaterstaat (NL) has been chosen for funding and the preparation of the Grant Agreement has started.

VitalNodes will build a lasting European network of key stakeholders based on existing European, national and regional networks. This is done by enriching and applying a proven approach for the optimisation of economic, social and environmental vitality of urban areas from the perspective of multimodal transport infrastructure and spatial development (‘Networking for Urban Vitality’, NUVit). VitalNodes will deliver evidence-based recommendations for more (cost) efficient and sustainable integration of all 88 urban nodes in the TEN-T network corridors, addressing specifically the multi- and intermodal connection between long-distance and last-mile freight logistics. These recommendations will be validated by applying an appraisal tool and involving experts from the growing VitalNodes network.

EGTC Activity Report 2015-2016

On 24 April 2015, the “Interregional Alliance for the Rhine-Alpine-Corridor EGTC” has been founded in Mannheim with ten founding members as follow-up of the Interreg VB NWE Strategic Initiative CODE24. The main objective of the EGTC is to facilitate and promote the territorial cooperation among its members and to jointly strengthen and coordinate the territorial and integrated development of the multimodal Rhine-Alpine Corridor from the regional and local perspective.
In the meantime, the number of members has grown to 21 and covers 6 countries. The EGTC is already recognized as a respected organisation since the short time of its founding and is also represented in the official EU-Corridor Forum Rhine-Alpine. The EGTC successfully directs funds to corridor related activities and projects like “ERFLS – European Rail Freight Line System” or “RAISE-IT – Rhine-Alpine Integrated and Seamless Travel Chain”. We are glad to present our report that gives an overview of the achievements of the EGTC from its founding in April 2015 till 2016 here.

New Edition “One Corridor – One Strategy”

The common Strategy for the development of the Rhine-Alpine Corridor as presented by the CODE24 project in 2014 provided the outlook for the future tasks of the EGTC „Interregional alliance for the development of the Rhine-Alpine Corridor“. First revision of the Strategy was done by the EGTC in 2016 and is now published here!

Expert Committees Discuss Projects in Duisburg

The Expert Committees of the the EGTC are responsible for initiating projects that serve the Joint Strategy for the development of the Rhine-Alpine Corridor. On 8 March 2017, the 2 Expert Committees met at the Port of Duisburg to discuss ongoing and planned projects.

The presented projects and initiatives ranged from developing a seamless travel chain for passengers between Urban Nodes in the Corridor over more sustainable freight transport through multimodal freight bundling or intelligent use of alternative fuels along the entire Corridor to rail noise monitoring.

Not only projects within, but also to/from the Rhine-Alpine Corridor were discussed. The Expert Committee “Spatial and Transport Planning; Economic Development and Logistics” chaired by Dr. Wolfgang G. Müller had a special guest contribution by Mr. Leonardo Vender from the Far East Land Bridge FELB. FELB operates freight trains between China and Europe with transit times of 14-16 days. In the Rhine-Alpine Corridor, Duisburg is the main destination for FELB because it is the largest international hub in Europe.

In the Expert Committee “Environment and Energy” chaired by Josef Offele, especially project initiatives on rail noise and inland waterways were discussed.

Meeting of the Working Group on Core Urban Nodes and Regions

Corridor Coordinator Paweł Wojciechowski invited the Working Group on Core Urban Nodes and Regions of the Rhine-Alpine Core Network Corridor to a meeting on 30 January 2017 in Mannheim, Germany.

It is the goal of the Corridor Coordinator to promote good practices for the efficient management and use of infrastructures. In the Second Work Plan for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor – which has recently been approved by all Member States– it is clearly stated that successful implementation of the Corridor depends on a strong commitment and involvement of all stakeholders. Furthermore, in the Issues Paper “TEN-T Corridors: Forerunners of a forward –looking European Transport System” of June 2016, the European Coordinators have addressed the need for effective integration of urban nodes into
the corridors.

By bringing together the Core Urban Nodes and Regions along our Corridor, the Corridor Coordinator would like to encourage the participants to share knowledge and learn from each other. Conclusions from the Working Group will be presented at the next Corridor Forum Meeting in June 2017 and included in the report on the Corridor Work Plan, update of which is due to be provided in 2017.

Assembly Meets Advisory Board

On 24 November, the EGTC Assembly and the Advisory Board met in Antwerp. The Advisory Board is open for organisations and personalities from economy, science or national governmental organizations as well as relevant Corridor stakeholders and associations, groupings or confederations.

The Advisory Board is created in order to bring external input in the discussions and the policy of the EGTC. Exchange of information and experiences is an added value for our new organisation.

Brussel Conference on Transport White Paper 24 May 2016: “European Transport Policy by 2050 – Tackling challenges and Regional Approaches”

In 2011 the European Commission presented within the Transport White Paper an ambitious roadmap for the future of transport until 2050. The European transport policy is targeting the creation of a single European transport area with more competition and a fully integrated transport network, which connects the various modes of transport and enables fundamental changes in passenger and freight transport patterns. Objectives by 2050 are, inter alia, the reduction of transport emissions, the increasing shift of passenger and freight traffic to rail and the intensified use of renewable energy sources in transport. In Spring 2015 the European Commission opened a consultation on the mid-term review of the Transport White Paper in order to take stock of its implementation status and progress as well as input on the possible revision and adaptation of the transport policy. Birgit Simon, First deputy Director of Regionalverband FrankfurtRheinMain, has a clear vision regarding transport 2050 in FrankfurtRheinMain. According to her, “cycle Highways, noise-free rail traffic, autonomous road traffic and relaxed pedestrians“ will hence dominate the transport and traffic scenery.

Invited by the European Office of the Metropolitan Region FrankfurtRheinMain and the Representation of the Representation of the State of Hessen to the EU on 24 May 2016, 170 representatives from regional governments, the European Institutions and project implementers discussed the current state of the implementation und the future development of transport policies in Europe. In a panel discussion, facilitated by Werner Balsens (Deutsche Verkehrs-Zeitung), the following experts and political respresentatives exchanged on the White Paper’s challenges and solutions: Angelo Tedde (Vertretung der Vereinigung der italienischen Handelskammern in Brüssel), Dr. Rolf Diemer (Generaldirektion Mobilität und Verkehr, Europäische Kommission), Birgit Simon (Erste Beigeordnete des Regionalverbands FrankfurtRheinMain und stellvertretende Vorsitzende der Interregionalen Allianz für den Rhein-Alpen Korridor EVTZ),) Ismail Ertug (Mitglied des Europäischen Parlaments).

Dr. Rolf Diemer (Head of Unit, Directorate General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission), Ismail Ertug (Member of the European Parliament), Birgit Simon (Deputy Director of the Regional Authority FrankfurtRheinMain and Vice Chair of the Interregional Alliance for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor EGTC) and Angelo Tedde (Senior Policy Advisor at the Representation of the Union of Italian Chambers of Commerce in Brussels).

For further information, please look at an extensive outcome on the conference (in German only)

  • Dokumentation “Europäische Verkehrspolitik bis 2050 – Aktuelle Herausforderungen und regionale Lösungsansätze” [PDF: 692 KB]

or access conference programme (German/English)

  • Einladung Europäische Verkehrspolitik bis 2050 – Aktuelle Herausforderungen und regionale Lösungsansätze [PDF: 84 KB]