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Date of the Study


With the acquaintance of the European Commission, FERRMED is beginning work on the “FERRMED Study of traffic and modal shift optimisation in the main corridors of the EU Core Network”), through the FERRMED Multisectoral Working Groups (FMWGs).

The background justifying the undertaking of this study is:

  • The environmental impact of freight transport represents 30% of total emissions of the transport sector.
  • Freight transport by road contributes substantially to congestion, accidents and pollution. In this situation, the shift to rail is a key issue. Compared with road, energy consumption of rail freight is six times lower, as well as six times lower than the external cost of road.
  • If this were not important enough, modal shift to rail is even more important in the light of macroeconomic forecasts. According to the OECD, terrestrial freight transport in Europe will increase by some 30% by 2030, assuming no further financial crises with their devastating repercussions.
  • Taking into account that there has been no increase in the share of rail in overall terrestrial freight traffic in the last 15 years (17.9% in 2005 and 17.3% in 2017), added to the fact that the Trans-European Core Network is very extensive (80,000 Km), moving traffic from road to rail requires the concentration of investments in a selective part of the Core Network, that which has the most traffic.

Aside from the economic advantages (lower transport costs), the environmental benefits are enormous. It would be possible to save more than 40 million tonnes of emissions every year and contain the growth in the number of lorries on the motorways.

The FERRMED study aims to facilitate the prioritisation of action in every EU member state, as well as to be a fundamental tool in the modification of the TEN-T Regulation planned by the European Commission for 2021.

The Study will provide details of traffic flows, both globally and by mode of transport, section by section, of the 9 corridors of the EU Core Network. It will define the measures to be taken to optimise modal distribution in the most congested areas, country by country, and propose the actions to be carried out in the railway network to achieve the objectives of the White Paper of the European Commission (30% of transport of terrestrial goods over distances greater than 300 km shipped by rail or barge by 2030) in the sections of the corridors with the highest traffic, up to 60% of the total traffic of the Core Network.

In addition, in the case of the rail transport mode, the Study will analyse the strategic intermodal terminals (which are part of the busiest agglomerations), the main lines of connection between them, the back-up lines and the main feeder lines. For each section of the lines, it will detail the number of freight and passenger trains, the maximum permissible length of freight trains (which should be 740 m in the first phase and 1500 m in the final phase), the loading gauges allowed, which should be P 400 or GC-C, and the bottlenecks; it will also assess the state of implementation of the ERTMS system. Furthermore, it will identify the innovations in freight rolling stock needed to meet the requirements of so-called “intelligent trains”.

In the Study, freight trains would have the same consideration as ships or ferries that run short sea shipping routes. For long distances, trucks and / or their trailers should be transported by rail.

Study type