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Priority 2: Improving accessibility to, and within, Central Europe

Accessibility is a precondition for jobs and growth and a key factor for economic development and the reduction of disparities in the programme area. It facilitates the movement of people, goods and information, increases efficiency and improves the development prospects for the regions.

Projects under this priority will aim at improving accessibility, a precondition for economic development and a key factor for reducing disparities in the programme area. They will promote information and communication technology-based solutions, as well as non-technological alternative solutions for enhancing access. They will also foster interconnectivity and inter-modality for higher efficiency and reduced volumes of transport across the CENTRAL EUROPE cooperation area.

 

Summary/Overview: About accessibility in Central Europe

Central Europe provides a differentiated image in terms of accessibility: It disposes of highly accessible regions in its heart but has also large areas in rural and peripheral regions, where missing or neglected transport lines cause a weak level of accessibility.

Consequently, the challenges are twofold: On the one hand, transnational corridors have to be coordinated with national and European transport policies (e.g. TEN and TINA) and the corridors have to be interlinked and upgraded. It is necessary to eliminate the bottlenecks of the transport network, to secure access to the seaports (Baltic, Adriatic and North Sea) and to handle the traffic flows arising from the enlargement of the European Union in a sustainable way. On the other hand, transport solutions have to be developed both for growing metropolitan areas, as well as for rural and sparsely populated areas.

However, accessibility can be improved by both the physical expansion of the transport networks as well as by optimising the efficiency of the network. The provision of interconnectivity and interoperability should ensure the links between the different modes of transport. The modernisation of the existing networks therefore requires coordination between various levels (urban, regional and transnational). Besides this ‘quantitative’ challenge, the qualitative dimension has to be regarded as well: Although in Central Europe there is a relatively high modal split of railway in freight transport, there are significant gaps in terms of developed interoperable transport infrastructures.

In this context, the establishment of multimodal logistics does represent an important challenge in most Member States. A transnational coordination and effective cooperation of such actions needs to become effective at various territorial levels (transnational, national, regional, local). The use of innovative ICT-solutions in the logistics sector should be stimulated in order to achieve more efficient transport networks. This is particularly relevant when considering the increasing importance of logistics in the region. Unless multimodal logistic solutions and cooperation in the field of logistics are enforced, there is a clear threat of further increasing road-traffic in Central Europe.

Transport corridors offer a variety of economic opportunities for Central Europe such as access to markets and an increased potential for logistical functions. The increased accessibility provided by the new TEN-T corridors may produce positive impacts on the economies of cities and local urban systems in terms of attracting investments and locating opportunities for new services and innovative investments. 

However, transport itself does also have significant environmental impacts, which need to be mitigated in accordance with various stakeholders’ interests (environmental groups; business sector etc.). Due to growing urban areas, the increase of traffic on transnational transport routes and due to rising car ownership, a future increase of traffic flows presents a major environmental risk for the area. Here it has to be stressed that some regions in Central Europe dispose about high experience in the development of environmental friendly transport systems and have a high modal share in urban public transport, which can be regarded as important reference models for other cities and regions.

The strengthening of the transport networks alone does not automatically generate higher accessibility as it may also lead to unintended effects. Complementary measures are needed in order to tackle such complex effects. This can be alternative modes of enhancing accessibility where user costs play a crucial role. In addition, the use of Information and Communication Technologies can provide new opportunities for increasing accessibility in an intelligent way. As the roll-out of broadband as well as of internet use is currently still lagging behind in new Member States and in rural areas, Central Europe can meet challenge to encourage the catching-up-process of ICT-infrastructure and to promote the intelligent use of ICT for its purposes, such as the access to services in sparsely populated areas.

 

Key Words

ICT solutions, TEN-ICT, ICT e-services / public services, ICT access & economic use, accessibility (rail), accessibility (rail assets), accessibility (motorways), urban transport / traffic management, multimodal transport / logistics, connectivity / interoperability / transport security, integrated transport & mobility planning, airports, ports, waterways, clean urban transport, and institutional learning / policy development.

This priority includes the following areas of intervention:

Please see also DOCUMENT CENTER >> OTHER DOCUMENTS and LINKS section for relevant news updates and online resources on accessibility!