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31 August 2020

Representatives of eight urban nodes in the Baltic Sea Region discussed challenges with the European Commission


During an online seminar, organised by the Joint Spatial Planning Department Berlin-Brandenburg on 10th June 2020, in the frame of the BSR Access project, first outcomes of a survey amongst urban nodes and their challenges have been discussed in the context of ongoing TEN-T revision.

Urban nodes in the BSR. Representatives of the blue ones participated in the online seminar. © INFRASTRUKTUR & UMWELT

After a tour-de-table presentation of participating urban nodes, Vera Kissler, Advisor to Ms Catherine Trautmann, coordinator of the North Sea - Baltic Core Network Corridor, presented the current status of TEN-T revision with special attention to urban nodes. She highlighted, that it is discussed to improve the TEN-T functionalities in urban nodes, recognizing their importance as intersection between TEN-T and urban transport as well as hotspots for developing and implementing smart and innovative mobility solutions, especially for first and last mile transport. For the future it is discussed to both, extend the list of urban nodes and to refine their definition.

Sven Friedrich, INFRASTRUKTUR & UMWELT Professor Böhm und Partner, briefly presented the outcomes of the survey carried out in BSR Access and conclusions, the consultants have drawn. According to him major challenges are related to integrated planning, financing and an urban node definition, that well distiguishes between the TEN-T dimension and urban transport dimension yet being flexible enough to react on market developments, especially in the logistics sector.

In the discussion it became evident, that a more comprehensive view on urban nodes and their inter-relations to the transeuropean transport network is needed. This mainly means to better reflect on TEN-T planning in urban transport planning and vice-versa. Funding mechanisms need to get better coordinated between different European and national funding schemes.

Documentation of the seminar can be found at


20 August 2020

Parliament adopts major reform of road transport sector


Improving drivers’ working conditions
Clear rules on posting of drivers
Better enforcement to fight illegal practices

The updated rules on road haulage will ensure fairer competition between operators ©Adobe Stock/thomaslerchphoto
The updated rules on road haulage will ensure fairer competition between operators ©Adobe Stock/thomaslerchphoto

Parliament backs revised rules to improve drivers’ working conditions and stop distortion of competition in road transport.

MEPs endorsed all three legal acts without any amendments, as adopted by EU ministers in April 2020. The political agreement with the Council was reached in December 2019.

The revised rules for posting of drivers, drivers’ driving times and rest periods and better enforcement of cabotage rules (i.e. transport of goods carried out by non-resident hauliers on a temporary basis in a host member state) aim to put an end to distortion of competition in the road transport sector and provide better rest conditions for drivers.

Better working conditions for drivers

The new rules will help to ensure better rest conditions and allow drivers to spend more time at home. Companies will have to organise their timetables so that drivers in international freight transport are able to return home at regular intervals (every three or four weeks depending on the work schedule). The mandatory regular weekly rest cannot be taken in the truck cab. If this rest period is taken away from home, the company must pay for accommodation costs.

Fairer competition and fighting illegal practices

Vehicle tachographs will be used to register border-crossings in order to tackle fraud. To prevent systematic cabotage, there will be a cooling-off period of four days before more cabotage operations can be carried out within the same country with the same vehicle.

To fight the use of letterbox companies, road haulage businesses would need to be able to demonstrate that they are substantially active in the member state in which they are registered. The new rules will also require trucks to return to the company’s operational centre every eight weeks. Using light commercial vehicles of over 2.5 tonnes will also be subject to EU rules for transport operators, including equipping the vans with a tachograph.

Clear rules on posting of drivers to ensure equal pay

The new rules will give a clear legal framework to prevent differing national approaches and ensure fair remuneration for drivers. Posting rules will apply to cabotage and international transport operations, excluding transit, bilateral operations and bilateral operations with two extra loading or unloading.


Next steps

The adopted rules will enter into force after they are published in the Official Journal of the EU in the coming weeks.

The rules on posting will apply 18 months after the entry into force of the legal act. The rules on rest times, including the return of drivers, will apply 20 days after publication of the act. Rules on return of trucks and other changes to market access rules will apply 18 months after the entry into force of the act on market access.


Further Information:


12 August 2020

Faster construction for a strong economy and climate-friendly mobility


The cabinet approved the draft for an investment acceleration law presented by Federal Minister Scheuer. It is based on a resolution of the coalition committee. The BMVI is thus strengthening its measures for faster planning and construction in Germany.

Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer:

We want to build faster - for a strong economy and climate-friendly mobility. On the railways, we want to make electrification and digitalization easier, make platforms barrier-free or erect noise protection walls. We are speeding up approvals, shortening court proceedings, ensuring faster building laws and streamlining procedures. This means we take a look at everything that has been stuck up to now.

Faster construction by rail

In future, certain construction measures on the railways will no longer require approval through a planning approval procedure. These include:


o the electrification of railroad lines,

o the equipment with digital signal and security technology,
o the barrier-free conversion, raising or extension of platforms,
o the erection of noise barriers for noise remediation.

Environmental tests in these cases are facilitated, for example by a preliminary test, which in some cases makes subsequent tests unnecessary.

Shorter administrative court proceedings

In the future, higher administrative courts or administrative courts of first instance will have jurisdiction, e.g. for state roads, port projects or wind turbines.
This saves one instance and shortens the time of the proceedings.
In order to counteract staff shortages at the courts, judges are to be deployed more flexibly and competences are to be bundled in courts.

Immediate enforcement of building law

For nationally important infrastructure projects - such as projects from the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan or the expansion of mobile communications - immediate execution is ordered by law.
This means: after approval by the responsible authorities, construction can begin immediately. The suspensive effect of objections or actions for rescission does not apply in these cases. The path of interim legal protection in summary proceedings is retained.

Faster examination of the spatial compatibility

Infrastructure projects in Germany are generally approved in a two-stage process:
1. regional planning procedure: to assess the (supra)regional impact of a project.
2. planning approval procedure: for the granting of the building permit.
In order to avoid duplication of work, a regional planning procedure can be dispensed with in future if no corresponding conflicts are expected. In addition, the procedure will be more digitalized - e.g. through online publications.

In this legislative period, several new regulations to accelerate planning have already come into force. The Bundestag can now approve important environmentally friendly rail and waterway projects by law, which increases acceptance among citizens. Procedures for replacement new buildings have been streamlined - i.e. when bridges are replaced, for example, a new approval procedure is no longer required. In addition, local authorities have been relieved of the burden of removing level crossings so that they can be built more quickly.


Further information:

27 July 2020

ERA publishes biennial Report on Progress with Railway Safety and Interoperability in the EU


The European Union Agency for Railways has published its latest biennial Report on Railway Safety and Interoperability in the European Union


Monitoring safety and interoperability of the Union railway system is one of the key tasks of the European Union Agency for Railways. The report published today is based on data for the reporting period 2018, and where available, for 2019. This report provides a thorough overview of the development of railway safety and interoperability in the European Union. It should facilitate evidence-based policy-making at EU level.

European railways remain among the safest in the world with one passenger fatality occurring each 25 billion kilometers on average. Major accidents with more than five fatalities are becoming increasingly rare, 2018 being the first year since the late 1980s with no major railway accident reported. ERA’s Executive Director, Josef Doppelbauer however urges the sector: ”We can never afford to be complacent. Unlike the European aviation and maritime industries, railways still have not implemented a systematic and comprehensive EU-wide safety occurrence reporting scheme, which would enable not only to learn effectively from major accidents, but also from incidents without victims. Several areas in which safety has been stagnating recently, such as level crossing and railway workers safety, or rolling stock fires, would particularly benefit from wider information sharing. I invite all railway parties to be strongly committed to enhancing railway safety by rigorously applying a robust Safety Management System and by implementing a positive railway safety culture.”

We notice a sound progress in railway interoperability concerning the alignment of operational frameworks in terms of rules, however only modest improvements are visible in making the railway assets interoperable. At border crossings the weaknesses in railway interoperability are most visible. In many areas, delays in the implementation of legal requirements in a few Member States consequently delay the interoperable deployment of railways in other countries, depriving them of the full benefits from the harmonised system. “We all need to enhance our efforts in particular in the area of railway data interoperability”, says Josef Doppelbauer: “high quality interoperable railway data are essential for European railways. I invite all parties involved to intensify their collaboration with the Agency.”

The report geographically covers the 28 Member States as of end 2019. Since Cyprus and Malta do not have railway systems that are covered by the EU legislation, the Union railway system is constituted by 26 Member States.



20 July 2020

Boosting the EU's Green Recovery: EU invests over €2 billion in 140 key transport projects to jump-start the economy


The EU is supporting the economic recovery in all Member States by injecting almost €2.2 billion into 140 key transport projects. These projects will help build missing transport links across the continent, support sustainable transport and create jobs. The projects will receive funding through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU's grant scheme supporting transport infrastructure.

With this budget, the EU will deliver on its climate objectives set out in the European Green Deal. A very strong emphasis is on projects reinforcing railways, including cross-border links and connections to ports and airports. Inland waterway transport is boosted through more capacity and better multimodal connections to the road and rail networks. In the maritime sector, priority is given to short-sea-shipping projects based on alternative fuels and the installation of on-shore power supply for ports to cut emissions from docked ships.

EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: "The €2.2 billion EU contribution to this crucial transport infrastructure will help kick-start the recovery, and we expect it to generate €5 billion in investments. The type of projects we invest in ranges from inland waterways transport to multimodal connections, alternative fuels to massive railroad infrastructure. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is one of our key instruments in creating a crisis-proof and resilient transport system - vital now and in the long run."

The EU will support rail infrastructure projects located on the trans-European transport (TEN-T) core network with a total of €1.6 billion (55 projects). This includes the Rail Baltica project, which integrates the Baltic States in the European rail network, as well as the cross-border section of the railway line between Dresden (Germany) and Prague (Czechia).

It will also support the shift to greener fuels for transport (19 projects) with almost €142 million. A number of projects involve converting vessels so they may run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), as well as installing corresponding infrastructure in ports.

Road transport will also see the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, namely through the installation of 17,275 charging points on the road network and the deployment of 355 new buses.

Nine projects will contribute to an interoperable railway system in the EU and the seamless operation of trains across the continent through the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), Upgrading locomotives and railway track to the unified European train control system will boost safety, decrease travel times and optimise track usage. The nine projects will receive over €49.8 million.

The projects were selected for funding via two competitive calls for proposals launched in October 2019 (regular CEF Transport call) and November 2019 (CEF Transport Blending Facility call). The EU's financial contribution comes in the form of grants, with different co-financing rates depending on the project type. For 10 projects selected under the Blending Facility, EU support is to be combined with additional financing from banks (via a loan, debt, equity or any other repayable form of support).

Overall, under the CEF programme, €23.2 billion is available for grants from the EU's 2014-2020 budget to co-fund Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) projects in the EU Member States. Since 2014, the first CEF programming year, six calls for project proposals have been launched (one per year). In total, the CEF has so far supported 794 projects in the transport sector, worth a total of €21.1 billion.
Next steps

For both calls, given EU Member States' approval of the selected projects, the Commission will adopt formal financing decisions in the coming days. The Commission's Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) will sign the grant agreements with the project beneficiaries at the latest by January 2021.

More information


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