TEN-T Projects in Their Geo-economic Context: a Case Study of the Trade Shape of the Spanish Mediterranean Railway Corridor

TEN-T Projects in Their Geo-economic Context: a Case Study of the Trade Shape of the Spanish Mediterranean Railway Corridor


Eloïse LIBOUREL, LVMT, Université Paris-Est, Ibtissem TOUNSI-GUERIN, Ladyss, Université Paris-VIII / Ecole Normale Supérieure


The use of a Spanish trade database in a GIS should lead to an analysis of the trade shape of the Mediterranean Railway Corridor to be compared to the discourse of the stakeholders on the implementation of a TEN-T project.


The Mediterranean Railway Corridor (MRC) is one of the great Trans-European Networks of Transport (TEN-T) projects. Its Spanish portion was included in the official documents since their very first version in 1996 and it became a major political and economic topic at a European, national and regional scale. The 2004 and 2012 revisions of the TEN-T guidelines led to strong debates at all scales.
The starting point of this paper is the statement that the definition of the TEN-T projects is based in a large part on political and discursive approaches. The different stakeholders taking part to the decision process try to orientate the priorities of the European Commission towards they own priorities. Therefore they use a large set of arguments mainly based on economic and territorial themes. The case study of the MRC is interesting because it allows to analyse the discourse of several stakeholders who support the project by highlighting the importance of the Mediterranean axis for freight and passengers, the industrial and touristic clusters of these regions and the territorial cohesion they are supposed to have. At the same time, different more or less extensive visions of the MRC lean on different and somehow contradictory analysis of the economic situation: some of the actors argue that the great railway project is an opportunity for the Mediterranean regions to overcome the economic crisis whereas other actors recommend a progressive implementation based on the actual reality of the territorial situations.
This paper’s aim is to confront the analysis of these discourses – as presented in institutional documents, media and a set of field interviews – to field observations and to the analysis of the trade shape of the Spanish Mediterranean regions through a Geographic Information System (GIS). Therefore we propose to use the Datacomex database published by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness which presents the trade data by province (NUTS 3 scale) since 1995 with a satisfactory degree of precision as far as transport modes and types of merchandise are concerned. We assume that this database affords the opportunity of a detailed analysis of the trade shape of the Mediterranean axis since the beginning of the MRC project. This retrospective study should allow to evidence the discrepancy between the discursive use of economic and territorial arguments and the real situation at the different key moments of the decision process of the TEN-T. Moreover, the detailed mapping by type of merchandise and by transport mode should show the opportunities of a modal transfer in the case of an improvement of interoperability between the Spanish and the European network. The database will be processed thanks to a GIS which will produce a set of flow and economic data maps of the situation to be compared to the programmatic representations of the MRC territory. A GIS is also interesting for it can be an interesting instrument for decision making and for it allows comparability of the data at a determined territorial scale.
As far as the expected results of the study are concerned, the paper should help to discriminate the part of the affirmations of the stakeholders which is anchored in the territorial reality from the part which represent a territorial myth or construction. The GIS is therefore a decisive methodology which outputs could be used in a decision making process at a European level and for the appraisal of TEN-T projects. Finally, the retrospective approach adopted in this paper could also be a base to highlight the perspectives of the MRC.


Association for European Transport