The Study of the North Sea - Baltic Core Network Corridor prepared by Proximare has been approved by the European Commission. The Corridor Study can be downloaded from the Commission's webpage (link below, scroll to the end of the page to find the link to the Corridor Study):
Infrastructure - TEN-T - Connecting Europe
Vice President Siim Kallas, in one of the last acts of his mandate as the European Commissioner responsible for Transport, today announced the appointment of a new European Coordinator for the North Sea Baltic Core Network transport corridor.
Mrs Catherine Trautmann, former mayor of Strasbourg and long-serving MEP, will replace Pavel Telička as the Coordinator for this 2500 km long multi-modal transport corridor linking Helsinki and Tallinn on the Baltic with the major North Sea ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, Amsterdam and Hamburg by way of the Baltic States, Poland and Germany.
Mrs Trautmann already has considerable experience within the European Institutions as a former Minister and MEP and has gathered broad experience in the transport field, regarding urban nodes – the urban tramway system for Strasbourg was developed during her time as mayor – high speed rail and Inland Waterways and ports. Mrs Trautmann was much involved in the financing and set-up of the TGV–Est high speed train link between Paris and Strasbourg.
The 3rd Corridor Forum of the North Sea - Baltic Core Network Corridor was held in Brussels on October 1st 2014. The meeting was participated by the representatives of the eight Member State (FI, EE, LV, LT, PL, DE, NL, BE), infrastructure managers of all transport modes and regional representatives. The Corridor Forum was followed by a Work Group meeting of the seaports and inland waterways ports.
The third progress report prepared by Proximare was presented to the Member States at the Corridor Forum. The few remaining weeks before the 4th and final Corridor Forum in mid-Novermber will be used to fine-tuning the contents and lists of projects. Towards the end of the year the progress report will be elaborated by the Coordinator and supporting team at DG MOVE into the Corridor Work Plan.
The Work Group meeting of sea ports and inland waterways ports received high attendance by the port representatives. The meeting consisted of ports' presentations, which served as useful fact-finding and benchmarking session, and discussion about mutual development needs that could be tackled in the context of the Corridor Forum. Mutual points of interest include, for instance, best practices in interoperability, the concept of last mile, and division of functions between authorities. Port Director Kimmo Mäki from the Port of Helsinki was chosen as the Rapporteur of the Work Group to the 4th Corridor Forum.
While the successor of Coordinator Pavel Telička had not been nominated in early October, the Corridor Forum was chaired by Chief Adviser James Pond /DG MOVE.
The 2nd Corridor Forum of the North Sea - Baltic Core Network Corridor was held in Brussels on June 18th 2014. The meeting was participated by the representatives of the eight Member State (FI, EE, LV, LT, PL, DE, NL, BE) and Infrastructure Managers of ports and railways. The meeting presented the second progress report prepared by Proximare which elaborates on the inventory and functionality of the transport infrastructure from the Corridor perspective. In the next phase towards the third progress report the work plan for the Corridor will be drafted by Proximare in intensive cooperation with the Member States and Infrastructure Managers. To the 3rd Corridor Forum, to be held in Brussels on October 1st 2014, the Regions as well as road and airport managers will be invited.
The 2nd Corridor Forum was chaired by Coordinator Pavel Telička and it was his final duty as the Coordinator before starting as a Member of the European Parliament in July. Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas acknowledged (EC press release on June 30th 2014) the long-term contribution by Coordinator Telička to the implementation of the Trans-European Transport Strategy:
"I want to put on record my thanks and those of the Commission to Pavel for the work which he has carried out for DG MOVE over the last 9 years - first on the "Rail Baltic" project and latterly as the first European Coordinator for the North Sea – Baltic TEN-T Corridor. With the agreement last week on a shareholders' agreement and the Joint Declaration of the Baltic Prime Ministers over the weekend, the "Rail Baltic" project is now firmly back on track and this is in no small way due to the negotiating skills and knowledge of transport issues which Pavel has displayed since 2005. I wish him well in his new career as a member of the European Parliament and hope that he will continue his involvement in transport issues."
The preparation of the Corridor Studies for the nine Core Network Corridors was launched by the European Commission in January 2014 as part of the TEN-T implementation. The kick-off organized in Brussels (January 8-9) started also the work of Proximare with the Corridor Study of the North Sea – Baltic.
After an intensive period of studies and initial data analysis (January-March) the first Corridor Forum meetings took place in Brussels in early April. The Corridor Forum of the North Sea – Baltic brought together the European Commission, eight Member States along the Corridor (FI, EE, LV, LT, PL, DE, NL, BE) and Proximare. The following Corridor Forum meetings will invite the key stakeholders in transport and logistics, including infrastructure managers and operators, cities and regions, industry and civil society. In 2014, there will be total four Corridor Forum meetings.
Chaired by Coordinator Pavel Telička, the meeting elaborated on the results of the first progress report of Proximare. The Report provides a general overview of the Corridor and points out the most severe bottlenecks along the corridor. Importantly, the report calls for political decision-making that supports the efficient implementation of the TEN-T strategy. The most striking bottleneck – 1000 km long – on the Corridor is the lack of the European 1435 mm gauge railway infrastructure across the Baltic States. Other important bottlenecks include eg. Amsterdam sealock and Rijnkanaal, to mention but few. Proximare continues the data collection and analysis of the Corridor towards the next progress report which will be presented to the Corridor Forum in June 2014.
European Coordinator of the North Sea – Baltic Core Network Corridor Pavel Telička and Chief Advisor James Pond visited Helsinki on March 10, 2014. The logistic node of Helsinki is part of the two TEN-T Core Network Corridors: the North Sea – Baltic, and Scandinavian – Mediterranean Corridors. The event Helsinki at the crossroads – the economic potential for Finland, organized jointly by the City of Helsinki and AmCham Finland, brought together stakeholders of both the public and business communities. The event was moderated by Ms. Kristiina Helenius, CEO of AmCham Finland.
The event was opened by Mayor Jussi Pajunen who underlined the importance role of fluent transport connections and especially port connections to the capital. Coordinator Telička acknowledged the active role that the City of Helsinki has had in international transport development and pointed out Finland as an important supporter to the idea of Rail Baltic. According to Mr. Telička, the Core Network Corridors as the highest hierarchical level of the TEN-T strategy implementation can significantly increase regional integration and positively build cross-border connections along the Corridor.
Professor Olli-Pekka Hilmola from the Lappeenranta University of Technology, Kouvola Unit, emphasized the necessity of the Finnish export industry to actively look for alternative transport routes given that the EU’s sulphur regulation will become effective in 2015. Chief Advisor Pond also highlighted Finland as an export driven society that has long track in maritime transport. For Finland, the forthcoming Rail Baltic project – a modern railway service through the Baltic States – could offer a new land connection. This would increase the accessibility of Finland drastically.
The comments from the audience called for removal of the various administrative and business barriers that are currently hindering cross-border connections between the countries. The current situation relates strongly to the national railway companies that operate like monopolies. The question of the Helsinki-Tallinn fixed link - the tunnel - was also raised. The decision-makers tend to share the opinion that the tunnel is not reality in at least 20-30 years, but nonetheless it can be kept as a vision.