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Home arrow 6th Framework Programme arrow Intention for the Call

Intention for the Call Print

The international freight transport has recently shown an above average growth rate and is of ever increasing importance in Europe, especially with the further expansion of the European Union (EU) in 2004. The market share of rail in international freight transport has decreased due to insufficient competitiveness, while road freight haulage has increased. One fundamental cause amongst others for this was and still is the insufficient interoperability within the railway system.

It is clear that rail efficiency and effectiveness can considerably be improved on longer distance. So far competitiveness of rail versus road was limited by a number of difficulties due to crossing borders of European countries, interoperable barriers and many other organisational problems including inadequate services. In an enlarged and more united Europe, an improved rail system should play a major role on cargo mobility so that an important part of the new increase of traffic could be transported by rail. Not only will more efficient rail infrastructures considerably reduce the negative impact of the new road traffic on environment, but also bring decisive advantages to inter-modality and traffic fluidity out of important maritime ports.

It is obvious that the European rail sector now finds itself in an initial phase of structural change. This results in a differentiated picture of transport relations as well as freight corridors. Many initiatives are still at the beginning stage whereas others are already fairly advanced and can be evaluated against the pertinent sustainability criteria. Generally there is also a large difference in the progress achieved towards the internationalisation of rail services between the member and accession states.

On the one hand, an important foundation stone for this structural change process has been laid by the new European regulatory framework for the rail sector. On the other hand, expected growth in demand points to the foreseeable dynamic development of the European freight transport market. It is now necessary to accelerate the development of predominantly nationally aligned systems into a single, integrated Pan-European system approach which will result into a more competitive rail freight service offer compared to road transport.