In the last years, globalisation, relocation and economic development caused an increase in international freight traffic. So much so, that in the European Southwest the existing corridors are attaining a traffic density, exceeding its capacity.
During the last decade, the Iberian Peninsula Ports (Portugal and Spain), have adapted to the new freight flows from America, Africa and Asia to Europe.
Presently, all these flows pass by through the Pyrenees by two channels: Portbou and Irún.
In the case of railway, the transit of goods by these channels means the need for waiting.
At the present the roads are saturated and expectations for improvement are not addressed in the short term.
In recent years, 240 millions tons of goods that pass by the Pyrenees by all transport modes (including maritime) the railway and combined mode (rail and road) is only 2%.
According to the figure of Franco-Spanish traffic Observatory, in 2006 in the Pyrenees, more than 20.000 trucks per day on average crossed the mountain, 110 million tons per year estimated.
Y si se observa la distribución de dichos tráficos, se constata que el 87% pasa por las autopistas litorales; el resto se distribuye por el resto de vías y solo el 4% circula por las carreteras interiores. Esto hace que los pasos de los litorales atlántico y mediterráneo se encuentran actualmente saturados comparativamente hablando con los otros existentes en el Pirineo y que por dificultades del terreno, no hacen apto el tránsito elevado de mercancías por la zona.
Analyzing the traffic distribution, we see that 87% of the trucks pass through the coastal highway, the rest is distributed throughout the other tracks and only 4% flows through the interior roads. Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines are now comparatively saturated with others on the Pyrenees and through difficult terrain, do not fit the high freight traffic through the area.
According to EUROSTAT, in Spain the rail market share is 3.9% ton-km, the EU average is 17.9% and in the surrounding countries is between 12 and 22%.
The freight rail network should link the strategically localized areas: the axis nº 16 links the two major ports of Sines and Algeciras with the logistic areas of Iberian Peninsula, France and Gran Paris.
The axis nº 16 is a crucial link to promote the interchanges between Europe and the rest of World. The North of Africa needs entry points to Europe, not only by maritime mode, but also by inland effective corridors.
European transport Policy
The axis nº16 of the TEN-T is within the 30 priority projects of the European Union.
The extension of the main axes should help to the success of UE enlargement and being a new opportunity to reduce congestion by promoting intermodality.
This corridor considered priority by the UE, shows its importance for the development not only in Portugal, Spain and France, but for Europe. The axis nº 16 has 75% of km built, it’s a future axis and his representative work is the low-level tunnel through the Pyrenees Central, Trans-Pyrenean Central Passage.
The priority project N 16 Sines / Algeciras-Madrid - Paris, including a high-capacity rail corridor through the Central Pyrenees, has received EU funding amounting to 5 million euros (50% of the total budget estimate). Participating Member States contribute 50%, for a total of 10 million through 2013 to carry out environmental studies to define the technical and geographical aspect of the corridor, to carry out economic and financial analysis, and debate public processes in Spain and France.
The European Union boosts by the rail mode:
- • Complementing the coastal passes, specially the eastern and western that are becoming saturated.
- • Reducing the CO2 emissions, to meet the environmental commitments.
- • Encouraging the passengers rail service in the news high speed rail corridors subjects to a strong population pressure
- • Optimizing an existing rail corridor that doesn’t use because of the implementation of high speed lines, both in Spain and France.
Last April (2011) the European Commission published the new Transport White: "European Transport Strategy 2050. The Transport 2050 roadmap to a Single European Transport Area”. This is a document that includes several proposals to reduce the dependence on oil sector, as well as reducing carbon emissions in transport in a 60% by 2050.
In this regard, the Commission advocates a policy that the transfer modal freight transport from road to rail is a key, thus following the guidelines that already included the previous White Paper.
The Transport 2050 roadmap to a Single European Transport Area sets out to remove major barriers and bottlenecks in many key areas across the fields of transport infrastructure and investment, innovation and the internal market. The aim is to create a Single European Transport Area with more competition and a fully integrated transport network which links the different modes and allows for a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers and freight.