As stated by Regulation 1315/2013, the Motorways of the Sea represent the maritime dimension of the trans-European transport network. Thus, they shall not be seen as a separate component of such network, instead they shall be developed coherently, connecting the ports that are identified as part of it. The TEN-T Core Network is composed by 9 corridors with the highest strategic importance. Maritime ports of the core network have to be connected with the railway and road and, where possible, inland waterway transport infrastructure of the trans-European transport network by 2030. Thus, Core Network Corridors (CNCs) and Motorways of the Sea (Mos) are two essential components to achieve the key objectives of the TEN-T: smooth functioning of the internal market and the strengthening of economic, social and territorial cohesion. Their development requires consistency in terms of time, available capacity and technical characteristics, including the ones related to new technologies such as LNG and traffic management systems.
Key elements of an effective connection between CNCs and MoS are the following:
•Proper understanding of the complementarity between MoS and land networks to connect EU and neighboring countries, by properly incorporating the maritime dimension on CNCs development;•Quality of rail and road “last miles” connecting the CNCs with ports of the MoS, providing with sufficient capacity and keeping the interoperability level ensured over the Core Network;
•Alternative clean fuels, such as LNG, shall be available as substitute for fossil oil along the CNCs and in the Core Network ports to ensure de-carbonisation and lower pollution all along the transport chain;
•Port community systems shall evolve as Network community systems in order to facilitate seamless connection between transport modes in the whole Core Network. The work accomplished since 2014 by the European coordinators of CNCs and MoS contributed to monitor and accelerate the progress of the TEN-T implementation, although mainly focusing on each CNC and on MoS separately. In the next years, much higher emphasis shall be put on coordinating the effort at whole TEN-T network level, including the MoS, also through prioritization of projects improving the connection between CNCs and – in particular – between CNCs and MoS. Key drivers of such prioritization shall be
•reliable assessment of MoS traffic potential to/from each Core Network port, with clear analysis of the share of road, rail and inland waterways for the hinterland section, in order to properly assess the capacity needs for the last mile connections;
•implementation of smart freight mobility solutions by “federating” port community systems and operators’ platforms in order to provide E2E journey planning (taking into account available services, capacity, traffic conditions on the land networks and last mile), but also booking, invoicing, payment of the services, as well as supporting – where necessary – dematerialized administrative and customs operations;
•availability of alternative fuels to be ensured at macro-regional level (e.g. West Mediterranean area), and in the future at European level, moving from national initiatives and plans to a larger scale coordination, as already started in the Western Mediterranean area. Moving from successful local (e.g. based on a single port) solutions to TEN-T – wide schemes is the challenge for European connectivity in the next years. Tools to support this evolution are available, from the CNC and MoS coordinators and Forums to the funding instruments such as CEF and EFSI, but clear targets shall be set along the drivers mentioned above to concentrate more effectively both available financial resources and stakeholders’ implementation effort.