During the TEN-T seminar 22 November in Brussels, Kåre Pettersen, Vice Chairs of the North Sea Commission Transport group, presented the interests and positions of the CPMR North Sea Commission towards the TEN-T network in the context of the ongoing revision.

The North Sea Region in the TEN-T network

The North Sea Commission believes that the TEN-T policy is key for promoting free circulation of goods, services and citizens throughout the North Sea Region (NSR). The network is crucial for promoting accessibility, as well as for ensuring quality, efficiency, safety and sustainability of transport operations in the North Sea Region. The network is also important for linking up to 3rd countries and the rest of the world. The NSR is on overall well embedded in the TEN-T network and many sea ports, air ports and urban nodes are included in the core layer. Three core network corridors, Scandinavia-Mediterranean, North Sea – Baltic and North Sea – Mediterranean are crossing the area and the NSR thus plays a crucial role in the joint European efforts to complete the TEN-T. However, not all parts of the NSR – in particular peripheral areas in the Northern and Western part of the region – are sufficiently integrated in the TEN-T network. These areas suffer from long distances to markets, with extended transport times, higher costs and fewer route options. There is also a need to improve the conditions for maritime transport and integrate Motorways of the Sea (MoS) better in logistics chains.

The NSC response to the EU consultation on the TEN-T guidelines

The NSC response to the EU consultation on the TEN-T guidelines underlines the importance of having a transport infrastructure policy at the EU level in order to harmonise investments and standards across borders, and to contribute to territorial accessibility in the EU & beyond. The NSC also believes that territorial accessibility should be a priority for the development of the core network.

In line with this, the NSC believes that more funding should be allocated to the comprehensive network in general, and particularly to projects facilitating direct access to the core network. The European Commission (EC) is also requested to consider whether it would feasible to introduce a criterion – whereby no location on the comprehensive network should be more than a defined travelling time (for instance two hours) away from the nearest connection point at the core network.

The NSC supports the ambition of climate neutral transport in 2050, at the latest, as expressed in the CPMR policy position on transport adopted at the General Assembly in October. This is very much in line with the ambition of the new NSC strategy NSR 2030. Kåre Pettersen highlighted in this respect that the states and regions in the NSR are in the process of developing and rolling out alternative fuels and low-carbon vehicle technologies and infrastructure which will contribute significantly to lowering emissions from land-based transports. The NSR is also well-equipped with renewable energy and spearhead technologies to facilitate a transfer to a low-carbon and eventually fossil-free transport system. It is however vital that the transition towards climate-neutral transport is just and adapted to the characteristics of different territories – in particular in remote areas affected by ageing and depopulation. Climate requirements should thus not weaken the accessibility to markets and services for peripheral regions, and such regions should be compensated for the extra costs which are likely to occur in the short-term

The NSC response to the consultation furthermore highlighted that the TEN-T policy should contribute to harmonise technological specifications across border and increase the density of charging and refuelling stations for alternative fuels. This is in particular the case for Hydrogen fuel which has comparative advantages over battery-electric vehicles for long-range and heavy road transports. In the case of Hydrogen, the NSC also miss more widespread standards related to the use of the fuel – including technical requirements for safety, transport and storage etc.

The future network should be able to accommodate automated/autonomous transport solutions according to a coherent regulatory framework at the European level. Kåre Pettersen took the opportunity to mentioned that several regions around the North Sea – for instance Northern Netherlands, Bremen in Germany and Vestfold in Norway – are already acting as “living labs” for developing and testing out autonomous transport solutions.

Furthermore, the NSC believes that the criterion to establish the relevance of ports or airports in the TEN-T network cannot be limited to its passenger or transhipment statistics alone, but should also take into account their strategic and territorial importance, including projections for future economic opportunities. Therefore, the NSC welcome that the annex to the CPMR policy position have suggested new criteria for ports eligibility in line with this.

CPMR NSC’s proposed amendments to the TEN-T map

The NSC response calls for inclusion of new sections and upgrade of the network status of other sections in the NSR:

  1. To include the core network link from Taulov up to the ports of Hirtshals and Frederikshavn in Denmark in the Scan-Med corridor as proposed by the European Commission in the draft CEF regulation post 2020 from 6 June 2018.
  2. The section Stockholm-Hallsberg/Örebro in Sweden to Oslo in Norway (rail and road) should be included in the ScanMed corridor.
  3. The link Glasgow & Edinburgh to Aberdeen should be upgraded to core status, and possibly also be considered as an extension to the North-sea Mediterranean Corridor.
  4. Certain fishing ports, for instance in North Denmark and Scotland should be included in the comprehensive network
  5. Upgrade of the RailRoadTerminal (RRT) in Padborg (DK) from the comprehensive to the core network.

For questions, please contact Jon Halvard Eide, NSC Transport Group Advisor (jonhalvard.eide@vaf.no).