UIRR study: More than 500 billion euros needed for EU rail network 30/11/22

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UIRR study: More than 500 billion euros needed for EU rail network


Combined transport needs handling terminals. The photo shows the construction of gantry cranes in the port of Osnabrück in April 2021. (Photo: dpa / Fotostand / Reiß)


article by Frank Hütten


November 30, 2022

WIf the EU wants to achieve its climate protection goals in freight transport, around 537 billion euros will have to be invested in the European rail network by 2050. This is the conclusion of a study commissioned by the Union for Combined Road-Rail Transport (UIRR) and presented on November 30th. Investments of 490 billion euros (16.3 billion euros per year) in the expansion of the EU rail network and 47 billion euros (1.6 billion euros per year) in intermodal terminals and handling equipment could therefore help to triple the necessary capacity of tonne-kilometres in rail freight transport.

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport in line with the EU's "Green Deal", although freight transport is likely to increase by 27 percent by 2030 and by 51 percent by 2050 compared to 2020, the study also assumes that the number must increase trains will more than double from 6,100 (2020) to 13,800 (2050) per day. This cannot be achieved with the existing infrastructure.

At least 300 new terminals are needed

The consistent expansion of combined transport is essential for shifting traffic to rail. This would have to grow by 360 percent over the next 30 years, and by 2050 it would account for around 70 percent of the volume of EU rail freight transport at 800 billion tonne-kilometres. According to the study, referring to an analysis used by the EU Commission to support its proposal to revise the regulation on trans-European transport networks ( TEN-T). However, the authors of the UIRR study recommend planning for additional capacity reserves.

They assume that the TEN-T will be expanded as proposed by the Commission. Then 330 billion euros of the 490 billion euros estimated for upgrading the EU rail network will already have been reached. The rest of the investments are needed to eliminate bottlenecks. Investments in transhipment terminals could mainly be raised by private actors.

Digitization should also create more capacity

In addition to investments, the study calls for other changes to transport more goods by rail. Digitization must be promoted, for example through the use of electronic freight documents. Changed operating procedures and timetable reforms (Time Table Redesign – TTR) are mentioned as contributions to the increase in capacity. As far as the legal framework is concerned, the authors demand the guarantee of fair competition between the modes of transport and the support of combined transport through a new EU combined transport directive.