Technical Secretariat Pan-European Transport Corridor X
of the 2nd meeting of the Pre-Steering Committee for Pan-European Corridor X
Thessaloniki, 26 November 1999
He mentioned that since the last meeting of the Steering Committee many things changed in Corridor X, but his feeling was that all countries crossed by this Corridor are ready to re-open dialogue, so as Europe not to be deprived of this very important Axis, which has served for several decades as the main link between this region and the rest of the continent.
He pointed out that despite the fact that several political issues are still outstanding, the Committee was called to take some positive steps in the direction of solving problems, re-establishing confidence between the countries and support co-operation at technical level.
He set as aim of the work of the Steering Committee the upgrading of the whole Corridor to the standards prevailing in Europe nowadays, so as to attract the portion of traffic normally belonging to it.
He also mentioned that in the first meeting of the Committee a technically agreed text of the Memorandum of Understanding had been achieved,, the signature of which could take place as soon as the countries felt ready for that. In the meantime, he expressed the view, that nothing impedes the countries to work together and take steps at technical level that can substantially improve the situation of the Corridor. As for the organisation of the work, he proposed the elaboration of all major issues foreseen in the Memorandum of Understanding and, on the basis of it, the establishment of a Work Programme, which will assist the Committee to achieve real progress in the work. This issue was proposed to be included in the Agenda, as a new element, in order to be discussed in detail.
Finally, the Chairman referred to the decision taken in the first meeting of the Committee concerning the establishment of a Technical Secretariat, for the support of the work of the Steering Committee in the fulfilment of the tasks described in the Memorandum of Understanding. To this end, he announced that the Department of Transportation and Hydraulic Engineering of the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki will be assigned as Technical Secretariat for the Pan-European Corridor X and Assistant Professor Christos Taxiltaris will be the Scientific Co-ordinator of the team.
The Chairman referred to some initiatives aiming at the development of the Corridor, which could be presently described as a Pilot Action. To this end he proposed the inclusion of a new Item 7 in the Agenda, which read as follows: “Pilot Action for the development of Pan-European Corridor X concerning road, rail and intermodal transport”.
Since no other remarks were made by the Participants, the Agenda was approved with the above mentioned amendments.
Mrs. Guzman from the European Commission expressed the interest of the Commission in the development of Pan-European Corridors and referred to the co-ordination meeting of the Chairs of all Corridors, held in Brussels on the 7th of October 1999. In this meeting the main topic was the identification of difficulties impeding the progress of work of the corresponding Steering Committees of the Corridors, as well as the perspectives for accelerating the work. She also announced that the next meeting of G24 Transport Working Group is to be held in Brussels in February 2000.
Mrs. Guzman pointed out that the TINA process, which aimed at defining the transport infrastructure network in the acceding countries, as well as the selection and evaluation of priority projects, has finalised its work, with the presentation of the Final Report in November 1999. She indicated that financial assistance by ISPA funding would be granted to the acceding countries to further develop their network in the period 2000 - 2006.
Finally Mrs. Guzman expressed the interest of the Commission for the development of a common strategy for the Balkan countries and she referred to the granting of financial assistance to South-East European countries through the Stability Pact.
Mr. Schwetz from TINA Secretariat referred also to the presentation of the Final TINA Report in November 1999 and announced that the contract of the TINA Secretariat would be finalised by the end of November 1999. He mentioned that TINA has been a dynamic process and that further discussions were in progress with ISPA funding for the financing of the projects. He also indicated that discussions were under way for the future of the database developed by TINA.
Mr. Schwetz referred to the decision taken by the co-ordination meeting of the Chairs of all Corridors (Brussels, 7th October 1999), that the Chairmen of the Corridors could participate in the meetings of the Steering Committees of the other Corridors, with a view to achieving better co-ordination of the work done between the various Corridors.
Finally, Mr. Schwetz announced that the annual Report of the Corridors, which has been assigned to TINA Secretariat will be finalised by the end of December 1999 and it will be presented to the next meeting of G24 Transport Working Group in February 2000.
Mr. Zivec on behalf of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe referred to the European Agreements AGR, AGC and AGTC, which are in the process of elaboration, so that compatibility with the Pan-European Corridors and the TINA Network is achieved. He also referred to the work done by WP5, which is aimed at seeking solutions for the implementation and operation of the Pan-European Corridors.
He also mentioned the ECE Resolution for the minimisation of waiting times of block trains at border crossings to a maximum of 30 minutes for each border crossing.
Finally Mr. Zivec referred to the Trans European Rail (TER) Network, which covers 15 countries. He stated that 5 main priority projects have been identified, aiming at improving the operation of the Rail Corridors and developing Freight Freeways.
Mr. Dorries from Germany informed the Committee that a demonstration train would be in operation in the beginning of December 1999 along Corridor IV up to Thessaloniki and then to Kossovo carrying humanitarian aid and asked support by all countries crossed by this train.
Following this presentation, the Chairman suggested two alternatives:
More specifically Mr. Floeck presented the goals upon which the railway companies of the countries of Corridor X have agreed, as well as the definition of 5 key points for the achievement of goals and the creation of a competitive basis for infrastructure customers.
He also stressed that demand-oriented improvements in existing passenger and freight services will highlight the benefits of an integrated rail system and referred to the initiatives that will render railways more competitive in comparison with the road.
Mr. Floeck pointed out that railways, based on non-conventional solutions, increased research and development and improved staff training. Furthermore he stressed that provisions of modern services must be ensured, so as to reach a competitive edge and followingly he referred to the plans for that. He also stressed that so far the following positive results have been achieved by the UIC Railway Group for Corridor X:
Finally he enumerated the most important projects, in which work has in part already been taken up:
The Chairman asked all delegations to provide the Secretariat with this information in written form by fax or e-mail until 20th of December 1999 at the latest. This information will be incorporated to the report, which will be followingly disseminated to the Participants and also transmitted to the G-24 before its next meeting in February 2000.
He mentioned that all necessary data were collected from the relevant countries, which will be used for the preparation of a database foe the overall rail system of South Eastern Europe.
Mr. Argyrakos referred also to the problems that were already identified concerning the activities of the rail system, such as infrastructure deficiencies, lack of rolling stock, passenger and freight capacity bottlenecks etc.
Finally, Mr. Argyrakos and Mr. Steininger presented the main features of Rail Corridor X, which will be the basis for the immediate and short term measures.
The financing of the Technical Secretariat for the period January 2000-July 2001 is ensured by the Greek Government, since no other resources are available for the moment. This initiative of the Hellenic Republic was welcomed by all.
Mr. Dorries stated that the same problem of financing of the Technical Secretariat is faced in Corridor IV and asked the Chairman to make consultations with the Commission Services, in order to resolve this problem.
The members of the Steering Committee discussed also the presented draft of the Rules of Procedure for the Technical Secretariat. The Chairman asked the Participants to submit their remarks in the relevant text (see Annex IV) by the end of January 2000 at the latest.
Then Prof. Christos Taxiltaris from the Secretariat presented in detail the Work Programme for Corridor X, on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding, which is quite specific and descriptive, as to the tasks to be performed by both national administrations and the Secretariat The time period for the realisation of the Work Programme, which is attached as Annex V, will be the period January 2000 - July 2001.
All participants commented positively to the presented Work Programme and expressed their willingness to assist and contribute to this effort.
Austria will give further consideration to the proposed work programme and the rules of procedure and it will provide comments by the end of January 2000.
Once approved, this document will be a working document for the Steering Committee.
Finally a draft text of the Rules of Procedure for the Steering Committee was presented to the Participants (see Annex VI), which describes the overall framework of the operation of the Steering Committee. The Chairman asked the Participants to submit their remarks to this text by the end of January 2000 at the latest.
He also reminded to them that they should submit their eventual remarks to the texts of the Rules of Procedure for the Secretariat and the Rules of Procedure for the Steering Committee by the end of January 2000.
Following a proposal by the Chairman, it was decided that the next meeting of the Steering Committee will be held again in Thessaloniki by the end of September 2000, so that there exists enough time for both the national delegations and the Secretariat to perform their already undertaken tasks.
Then the Chairman Professor Yannis Maniatis informed the Participants that he intends to follow developments concerning Corridor X in his capacity as Secretary General of the Ministry of Transport & Communications and not any more as Chairman of the Steering Committee.
Instead, he proposed Mr. Patsiavos to undertake the Chairmanship of the Steering Committee from now on, expressing his certainty that Mr. Patsiavos would do all his best to perform with determination this new task. This proposal was approved by all the Participants.
Finally, the Chairman thanked all the members of the Steering Committee for their assistance and support during the first two meetings of the Committee, indicating that without their active involvement it would not have been possible to accomplish so many things despite all difficulties.