sábado, 14 de julio de 2012

Six goals for the european transport market development (english version)

Intermodal station
Intermodal station "Quatre Camins"

The European Commission puts great importance in its strategy to strengthen the political body, which is the union of the European continent, with the development of a potent infrastructure network to join its vast territory of more than 4 million m2 and a population which already surpassed 502 million inhabitants in the year 2011. The working document:  (White Paper) Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area - Towards a Competitive and Resource Efficient Transport Area Systemis the most recent report which I was able to read about European infrastructure. Published in 2011 by the European Commission, this report highlights the importance of transport infrastructures for the economic activity: for job creation, the stimulus of Commerce, the improvement of geographic accessibility and the mobility of goods, services and persons which travel through its territory. I think the mentioned document might be quite interesting because of its proposition to project and plan the European Communities’ vision of the future European transport system concretizing the major operative lines to be developed in the next years, which can be classified in three big blocks:

Creation of a European transport market on the basis of the infrastructures project TEN-T, the objective of which is the reduction of the current traffic congestions and a substantial improvement of the accessibility to the whole European territory on a small and medium scale level (continental and regional).

Reduction of the big dependability of the European transport system on petrol and the design of new contingencies for the foreseeable scarcity of fossil fuel in the near future (Peak oil). In the report the following fact is pointed out: In 2010 the imports of petrol to the European Union amounted to approx. 210 billions. €.

Reduction of the greenhouse gases in order to minimize their effect on the climatic change.

This document proposes quite concrete actions for each of these three fields for the next four decades (comprising a horizon until the year 2050) which I tried to classify in the following 6 major goals as indicated at the beginning: 

1. Reduction of the greenhouse gases by  60 % before 2050 for the complete transport system, with the milestone to reach a reduction of 20 % in 2030 in comparison to the emissions produced in 2008.

2. Change of the transport model: Development of considerably cleaner vehicles, a strengthening of the collective transport where the individual transport only will be used as the “last mile” of the journeys, creation of high speed train lines and corridors for the rail transport of special goods at medium range, thus enabling a sutureless mobility within the territory with a good intermodality between the different means of transport. A change of the transport model based on the intensive use of technology, not only to improve the transfers between the different modes of transport, but also in order to improve its infrastructures (ITS, SESAR, EMTS, SafeSeaSafety, RIS…) and in order to reach with this model a level of economy of scales that permits the apparition of multimodal and multinational logistic operators.

3. Creation of a multimodal transport network between the major cities of the European Union, with train corridors and motorways, by strengthening the intermodal character of the sea ports as well as of interior waterways and by connecting the high speed train network with the European airport network. The creation of a unique European airspace, the creation of a unique train space and the creation of a “blue belt” for the European network for short distance sea shipping.

4. Implantation of a sustainable urban transport system, by using mobility plans in the cities or in the companies and big public installations; by introducing intelligent transport tickets and by using tariff systems by areas and not by mode of transport, by car-sharing, Park & Ride systems near big connecting stations, by potentiating active mobility (like walking, biking,…) and by harmonizing movements of the commuter traffic in the big metropolitan areas.

5. Maintaining the European Union as world leader for road and labour security, by the development of politics of security, responsibility, accessibility and quality of the services and working places in the transport and logistics sector. The European Union has the objective to reduce the number of traffic victims by half until the year 2020 and to reach 0 deaths by traffic accidents in 2050.

6. Internalization of transport costs. Costs on a global scale with the raising of taxes for energy use and with the creation of a market of the emission of greenhouse gases. For the costs on a local scale (noise, pollution and high traffic accumulation) a “toll” for the use of the infrastructures will be introduced and fiscal adaptations in the sector will be made according to the prerequisite: “who pollutes, pays”. This will be established in two phases: In the first phase until 2016, the taxes applied to the sales of cars with combustion engines will be revised. This means, on the one hand, the application of the regulation of the “Eurovignette” (road tax disc) – “who uses, pays” and on the other hand the modification of some of the tributes (those that allow for it) by highlighting the environmental impact they produce to discriminate positively the cleanest vehicles. In a second phase (between 2016 – 2020) this fiscal policy will be consolidated and the costs for pollution and noise level of the harbours and airports will be included. Obviously this document is a lot more extensive and those interested in its content can access to the original via the link which I mentioned at the beginning.

With the ongoing crisis we are informed “through the grapevine” by the media of new reductions and fiscal changes applied to different aspects of our mobility (a right our governments should preserve for us). Many of those measures are more than simply rumours, provoked by economically burdened Governments, and are part of a strategy designed by Brussels to achieve the change of model for our transport and mobility system, which leave little manoeuvring space to the national governments (such as for example delay of measures like the introduction of the “Eurovignette (Euroviñeta), in the case of Spain, or the modification of the contribution levels which can be applied in different fees). We’ll have to be more and more aware of what is happening in Brussels, as what is decided there, will be more important than what is being legislated in any of the capitals of the member states of the European Union.

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