The Mediterranean Corridor: towards a resilient transport network
The Mediterranean Corridor is one of the 9 main corridors designed by the European Union within the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). It is conceived as a multimodal corridor that crosses 6 countries (Spain-France-Italy-Slovenia-Croatia and Hungary) along 3,500 km. It will provide multimodal links from the ports and terminals of the Western Mediterranean to Central and Eastern Europe. The Med Corridor is interconnected with other 7 corridors and it provides an efficient, sustainable, and fast link between the main European markets and the Spanish Mediterranean economic system (Figure 1 and 2). TEN-T network is therefore a strategic scheme to ensure and enhance the mobility of both people and goods, as declared in the Schengen Treaty.
The regulatory framework is defined in Regulation 1315/2013 (EC, 2013), which establishes the guidelines for the development of a Trans-European Transport Network, determining the projects of common interest and specifying the requirements that must be met. To achieve those goals, the Commission introduced the Connecting European Facility Fund (CEF) through the Regulation 1316/2013. Furthermore, other EU funding programmes support TEN-T development like the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), Horizon 2020 (for research and development projects), Cohesion Fund (CF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The European Corridors seeks to achieve two basic pillars, interoperability and intermodality through the coordinated execution of works and projects. Indeed, the appropriate planning of the Trans-European Transport Network is crucial to enable efficient and long-distance transport operations. Regarding the railway system, the main goal is to achieve the full connection between the main nodes (Core Network) of each Corridor by 2030 in accordance with the following requirements:
- Implementation of Standard track gauge (1435mm)
- Train length > 740 m
- Electrification 25Kv
- ERTMS Communication System
- Axle loads ≥ 22.5 tons
- Improve rail connections with ports and terminals.
The Mediterranean Corridor is much more than a railway infrastructure. It is a large multimodal transport project which also includes roads, ports and airports in a more sustainable and competitive way. Beyond the infrastructural improvement, it is important to promote operations and services for passengers and freights. In this sense, the new sections should be complementary for both uses. Another important challenge is the development of a wide logistics strategy linking ports, airports, Rail-Road Terminals, and industries together. Not surprisingly, the Mediterranean Corridor will develop its full potential when its different modes of transport are connected. That is why we need to redefine logistics to boost the growth of intermodal terminals and port connections.
Finally, it is necessary to better integrate the infrastructure in urban nodes. For example, in Spain between Barcelona and Almeria there are more than 11 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, which requires specific attention to how the corridor crosses densely populated areas. But all these efforts will not be enough without the accurate planning of passenger and freight services, which aims at providing fast and effective transport. To achieve this goal, it is fundamental that infrastructure development is based on reliable and truthful analysis.