EU transport ministers to discuss rail transport

Press release 20.10.2022 15.30 fi sv en

Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka (Photo: Laura Kotila/Prime Minister's Office)

The Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU is hosting an informal meeting of EU transport ministers in Prague on 20–21 October. In the meeting, Finland will be represented by Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka. It will be an informal meeting where no decisions are taken.

The ministers will discuss two themes: development of high-speed lines and international connectivity as well as the current challenges for European rail.

Finland supports measures that will make transport a genuinely interoperable, sustainable and smart system. As transport modes can be combined more smoothly into travel chains, this will also offer new opportunities for cross-border transport. According to preliminary information, the European Commission will come forward with a proposal for multimodal digital mobility services next year.

The EU’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy proposes ambitious targets for increasing the number of passengers using high-speed rail transport: doubling it by 2030 and tripling it by 2050. Developing high-speed rail services is also an important objective in the development of the trans-European TEN-T transport network, the regulation of which is currently being reformed.

“High-speed rail connections are important for Europe as we aim for climate-friendly transport. Finland's position on the rail transport map in Europe differs from that of Central Europe. Following Russia's war of aggression, it is more important than ever that EU regulation also takes into account the role that Finland's network of ports plays in security of supply. Links from Finland to Sweden and Northern Norway must also be developed,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.

In July, the Commission proposed unifying the track gauge of the TEN-T rail lines. According to the proposal, new TEN-T connections should be built using the European standard gauge (1435 mm). For the existing TEN-T rail network, a transition to the European rail gauge should be planned, with the exception of those parts of the TEN-T network where harmonisation is not justified for benefit-cost reasons. Finland’s rail gauge is 1524 millimetres.

“Negotiations on rail gauge are moving in a good direction from Finland’s perspective, and I am confident that we will retain national decision-making power in this matter,” says Minister Harakka.

The new TEN-T regulation should take into account Finland’s particular national characteristics. Finland has continued actively advocating for our ports that are currently part of the Comprehensive Network to retain their TEN-T status. Compared to the Commission’s proposal of December 2021, Finland considers it important that the Core and Comprehensive Networks be expanded in Finland with respect to ports. Work on the TEN-T regulation will continue in the Council of the European Union in the autumn. The reformed regulation would enter into force in the beginning of 2024.

Inquiries:

Johanna Juselius, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 295 342 141, johanna.juselius@gov.fi

Noora Saarinen, Senior Specialist,tel. +35840 562 7044, noora.saarinen@gov.fi