Pan-european Transport Corridor 1
A Boyce, M Bright, FaberMaunsell, UK
2004 is a significant year in the European Union with the accession of 10 new countries, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe. For many of these, the transport network was orientated towards Russia, which reflected the prevailing economic situation. The accession to the EU means that these countries require an investment in improved infrastructure. As part of this requirement, the European Commission commissioned a study of the Pan-European Transport Corridor 1. This runs from Helsinki, through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to Warsaw in Poland, with a branch through Kaliningrad to Gdansk. Thus, it connects an established member of the EU with four accession countries.
The study requires an assessment of all modes of travel including road, rail, air and sea. All modes have significant issues to be overcome.
The ?Via Baltica? road (E67) is subject to a current investment programme. At present it is of a widely varying standard. There are dual carriageways near the major cities where there are significant traffic flows. Away from the cities, traffic flows are lower and road standards are also lower. This reflects the limited amount of traffic using the whole corridor. Investments are planned in new and rehabilitated roads, new bridges, traffic safety programmes and roadside services.
The biggest issue for the railways is interoperability. Historically, the railways within Europe have been developed to serve national interests. Standards have been adopted which, in general, ensured consistency within countries but did not always result in systems which were consistent with those adopted elsewhere. This has resulted in considerable fragmentation of the network in respect of signalling systems, electrification systems, track gauge, maximum permissible axle loads and operating rules and regulations. The most significant problem in this corridor is a change of gauge. Within Poland, the railway operates at standard gauge. This allows locomotives to operate between Poland and most other European Union countries. The situation in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is more complicated. The standard gauge only extends to Sestokai, about 20 km north of the Polish border. From this point. Russian Gauge is used which is about 90 mm wider than Standard Gauge. This creates a major disincentive for rail travel from Poland to the Baltic States and Finland.
The biggest issue for sea travel is winter ice. Large parts of the Baltic Sea freeze during the winter making it impossible to operate ports throughout the year. Icebreakers would be required to maintain the ?Motorway of the Sea?.
The study is required to assess alternative routes and improvements. Corridor 1 is located in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with a sea connection to Finland. Traffic in the corridor consists of a vast variety of different movements. Some of these are long distance trips between Helsinki and Warsaw. There are other inter-country trips which do not use the whole length of the route. There are many more shorter distance trips. The evaluation has to consider the various groups who benefit, as it is possible that some groups will have disruption caused by the route without being able to take advantage of it.
There are a number of different issues which need to be taken into account in the evaluation process. These issues cover the strategy for the corridor and its effect on the social and economic development of the region as well as scheme specific impacts on users and non-users. One of the key issues will be the balance between transport and the environment with an emphasis on sustainability.
The study started in December 2003 and will be complete in September 2004.
Association for European Transport