Trans-European rail network

The European Union formulated the development of a trans-European transport network (TEN-T) in 1996. The aim was to connect the entire continent without any gaps. The focus was on the railway. No other mode of transport seemed more environmentally friendly and efficient. The project has been revised several times. The current form has been in place since 2013. It has an integrated transport network designed to ensure the transport of passengers.

Goods across the entire continent are now transported. The TEN-T project was sub-divided and a time frame was set. The overall network connecting all regions is to be expanding by 2050. Important sections are to form an integrated core network as early as 2030. This consists of a total of nine “multimodal corridors”. They serve to coordinate the international expansion of the routes. Stakeholders are brought together and resources pooled. “Multimodal” means the corridors combine modes of transport such as rail, road and waterway. With 15,000 kilometres of rail alone, the routes cover the whole of Europe. From Norway to southern Italy, from the Atlantic coast to the Black Sea. 6/9 TEN core network corridors run through Germany more than any other European country.

The development of the European rail network is complex. Transport modes and infrastructures have to be combined. Bridges must be built, railways and roads modernised, and bottlenecks eliminated. Power systems, safety concepts, and track gauges need to be harmonised. The EU formulates guidelines and subsidises the expansion.

A comprehensive rail network connecting the whole of Europe is desirable. Such a connection requires the further development and expansion of existing railway networks. Also, new high-speed lines will be created. This can only be realised through the cooperation of various interest groups. Including the European governments, railway and infrastructure operators, and the European Union.

Advantages of trans-European rail links

Lower carbon emissions

Trains are more environmentally friendly modes of transport than aeroplanes and cars. Rail transport is 14 times less carbon-polluting than air transport.

Increased mobility

A well-connected rail network can improve mobility for both passengers and freight. They are making it easier for people to move around Europe and transport goods.

Economic benefits

Investment in railway infrastructure can create jobs and boost economic growth. Every euro invested in railway infrastructure generates a financial benefit of two to three euros.

Whether it is more relaxing to travel to London by train than by plane depends on personal preference. However, travelling by train can offer a more restful and scenic experience. Compared to travelling by air, there is more space and therefore more comfort. The ecological footprint is more sustainable.

Improving air quality

Rail operators can reduce emissions by investing in efficient engines, using cleaner fuels, and conducting regular maintenance programmes.

Train amenities

Increase comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, etc., to improve passenger comfort.

Noise reduction

Railway operators can take measures to reduce noise levels. Examples include quiet trains and erecting noise barriers along the railway network of urban communities.

Sustainable catering options

Several experts offer sustainable catering made from organic food from local producers.

The European Environment Agency published reports on the environmental benefits of rail travel. A 2019 report states that rail is the most ecological mode of transport for distances up to 1000 kilometres.

“The World Resources Institute published reports on the environmental impact of food production. In 2018, for example, sustainable food production and transport could improve social health.


Rail connectivity across Europe has many benefits. The best research shows reduced carbon emissions, increased mobility, and economic growth. Various measures, supported by several experts, can be taken to improve air quality. In addition, noise levels, onboard amenities, and a sustainable food supply. Last but not least, it ensures relaxed rail travel and lowers the environmental footprint.

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