FERRMED presented progress of its Study of Traffic and Modal Shift Optimisation in the EU, at the last FERRMED Multisectoral Working Groups (FMWG) General Steering Committee meeting, held by videoconference across Europe on July 2020.
To support the application of the conclusions of the Study across Europe, FERRMED is creating a support platform, called EULER/R+D+4i [EULER = European Union Locomotive Economic Regions; R+D+4i = Research + Development + innovation + identity (corporate / brand image, intellectual capital, etc.) + impact (perceived value, ability to contribute, etc.) + infrastructure (logistics, educational, science, finance, etc.)].
The Platform will be constituted for chambers of commerce, employer and professional associations, international associations related to R+D+4i, universities, research centres, unions, etc. and also the representatives of the EULER governments (as observers).
FERRMED has already begun contacting EULERs like North Rhein-Westphalia, Baden Württemberg, Lombardy, Catalonia and others, and the response has been highly positive. The EULER concept is not political but socio-economic. The Platform will receive as participants the “important economic regions of the big EU Member States and more modest Member States themselves whose economy is strong and well-developed.”
The Platform will also serve to support specific and highly innovative actions related to key environmental issues, the circular economy, 5G, blockchain, etc, at European (and even Eurasian) level.
Progress of the FERRMED study continues apace
The first phase of the Study, involving fact-finding on the zones of the EU Core Network, where it is “necessary to act pre-eminently”, will be finished by the end of this year and the complete Study, which will “specify actions to be carried out on the railway network and on the waterways, as well as the favourable economic and environmental impact”, at the end of 2021.
The provisional results already available from the first phase of the Study for some countries, “give a clear picture of the sections of the transport network (road and rail) with major volumes of traffic which therefore require priority action in the corresponding sections of the railway network.” This action will “enable rail to absorb a significant part of road traffic and allow the European Commission to achieve its objectives for 2030” (both socio-economic and environmental). In that year, the train will have to be used for at least 30% of total freight traffic for distances greater than 300 km.
The actions proposed by the FERRMED Study for the entire European Union include short-term (2023), medium-term (2025) and long-term (2030) actions.
The Study is of vital important for the whole of Europe. FERRMED is convinced that its approach and resulting actions is “the only way to achieve the European Commission's targets.” Investing where there is no traffic while underinvesting where there is cannot be allowed to continue.
Moreover, to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, EC President Ursula von der Leyen has proposed an ambitious Recovery Plan, which we hope will have a pan-European vision and be duly overseen by the European Parliament. There is no doubt - with respect to transport infrastructure development - that “the FERRMED Study will be key to the identification of suitable areas for investment that will achieve the best investment-results ratio.”