Since 2007, the EU cohesion policy programmes of territorial cooperation have been encouraging regions and cities from various member states to meet and work on topics of their common interest. As a result, a number of project ideas arise in the field of transport as well. One of them has been developed into a strategic transnational project to promote accessibility and interconnectivity of the EU regions: RAILHUC.
The project Railway Hub Cities and TEN-T network („RAILHUC“) is implemented through the CENTRAL EUROPE programme and co-financed by ERDF. It is led by the Emilia-Romagna region and it brings together various public and private partners from Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The cooperation on a transnational basis gives them an unique opportunity to deal with a problem that is of relevance for all of them but which, at the same time, they are not able to solve individually: while high-speed and intercity railway services are being modernized throughout many Central Europe countries, this is not the case for rail lines and systems at the regional and local level, so that rail transport potential cannot be fully exploited to optimise the Central Europe interconnectivity.
To reach its general aim of enhancing rail transport in the Central Europe area, RAILHUC endeavours to improve the feeding functions on rail of major hub cities and their respective regions and to support functional integration and multimodal cooperation among transport hubs. The partners will utilize exchanging information, learning from each other and sharing good practice to develop common concepts for better integration of urban and ragional rail transport into intercity and transnational networks, while taking into consideration the local contexts specific needs. The procedure will involve frequent consultations and round tables with relevant stakeholders, including rail and non-rail transport operators and infrastructure managers, who will strive for identifying any kind of bottlenecks and obstacles hindering hub multimodal integration, and for seeking possible ways to overcome them.
The bottleneck survey will lead into elaboration of strategic planning documents which should define long-term priorities for hub integration, as well as concrete infrastructural, service and administrative measures to achieve them, trying to make use of synergies with already ongoing interventions. Relying on wide stakeholders and decision-makers participation in this process, RAILHUC intends to base its outputs on a wide range of opinions and attitudes and thus to ensure their long-term sustainability.
Further dissemination of the project results will be secured by their mainstreaming into policy measures in each local context. The partners commit themselves to reach operationnal agreements on the selected priorities with all main stakeholders, helping them implement RAILHUC solutions and deploy their intervention plans for hub integration in the long-term perspective. Moreover, the gained knowledge, lessons learned and main conclusions will be summarized into a transnational strategy for rail transport in the Central Europe area.
RAILHUC has thus ambition not only to enhance rail transport and multimodal transport integration in the Central Europe for its better accessibility and interconnectivity, but also to transfer its know-how and innovative solutions towards other EU countries and regions.