Article published at Catalan News Agency, 25th May 2016
Image: Image of the 120 members in the Strategic Board for the Mediterranean Corridor Railway (by ACN)
Barcelona (CNA).- Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, called for the Spanish Government to promote the Mediterranean Railway Corridor, a long-awaited piece of infrastructure which is set totransport freight and passengers non-stop from Gibraltar to Central Europe. Puigdemont celebrated the “consensus” that the infrastructure has amongst the regional governments, such as those of Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Murcia, but lamented that the whole situation is “in stoppage time”. The Catalan President also referred to the report published on Tuesday by the European Court of Auditors which stated that the EU “had not been effective in enhancing rail freight transport” and emphasised that both the target for number of freight trains and that for tonnage of goods transported through the cross‑border section between Spain and France “are far from being achieved”. In the same vein,European Commission Spokesperson for Transport Jakub Adamowicz asked for “cooperation between all levels of administration” to “implement” the Corridor, as it is a “very important” infrastructure.
“We are in stoppage time and this European warning confirms it”, stated Puigdemont after meeting with the Strategic Board for the Mediterranean Railway Corridor, which gathered together around 120 people, including representatives from the parliamentary groups in the Catalan chamber, trade unions, business associations, chambers of commerce, professional colleges, universities, chartered institutes and city halls. Puigdemont praised the “consensus” that the construction of the Corridor has amongst the members of the board and also amongst the regional governments involved in the construction, such as those of Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Murcia, the territories through which the Corridor is set to pass.
However, Puigdemont urged the Spanish government “to listen” to their demands and also to Europe’s warnings and promote thislong-awaited piece of infrastructure. The next meeting of the Strategic Board for the Mediterranean Railway Corridor will take place in Valencia. Then “a clear and convincing message will be sent to those territories involved, especially the Spanish State and the EU”, he stated and added that although this might not be the “last chance” it has to “look as though it is”.
The EU “has not been effective in enhancing rail freight transport”
The European Court of Auditors reported that on Tuesday that “rail freight transport in the EU has failed over the last 15 years to respond effectively to the competition presented by road transport”. In their latest report, the Court pointed out that “the rail freight transport performance in the EU is persistently unsatisfactory in terms of modal share and volumes transported”. The document also stated that “the strategic and regulatory issues identified” are of such nature that “if not addressed, extra funding for rail infrastructure will not by itself resolve the problems identified and increase the competitiveness of rail freight transport”.
Therefore, the report recommends that “the Member States, together with the Commission, should improve the coordination of rail investments in order to maximise their effectiveness and avoid the rail network being developed in a piecemeal fashion”.
Cross‑border section between Spain and France underused
Out of 18 projects selected by the Court for review, two are located on the rail freight corridor between Spain and France. The report stated that “the quantitative targets in terms of the number of freight trains and the tonnage of goods transported on this section”, which is still not completed, “are far from being achieved”.
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