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THE TRANSPORT NETWORK AND ASSOCIATED POLICIES

 

Introduction

 

This section by way of background considers the extent of the Pan-European transport network. Associated policies including recent Declarations and other initiatives are described.

 

The extent of the network: the European transport context

 

The size and variability of the pan-European region significantly influences landscape and biological diversity and needs to be understood in the context of the transport sector. For the most part Western Europe has an established, highly developed transport infrastructure dominated by roads with relatively few proposals for strategic expansion. For example, both Austria and the Netherlands consider that saturation has been reached. The Netherlands is concentrating on enhancing its existing network for biological diversity (Ministerie van Vekeeren Waterstaat 2001). In comparison many Central and Eastern European states are seeking to improve access with plans to upgrade and expand the transport networks.

 

The density of motorways in Western Europe is two to five times as high as in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) (Ruppert, 2000) and emphasises the differences between these two parts of the Region. However, in CEE there has been a dramatic growth both in car passengers and in road freight, for example between 1990 and 1995 from 9 to 102 billion car passenger kilometres. Ownership has likewise increased; for example in Slovenia between 1980 and 1994 car ownership increased by 57 per cent. In Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic levels of car ownership are approaching those typical of EU countries (Fergusson 2000) with the associated problems of congestion. Likewise, the growth in road freight in CEE exceeds the average yearly increase of 3.5 per cent in Western Europe. This is partly related to the decline in rail freight.

 

The extent of the railway and navigable waterway network across Europe is more variable than highways. Following a rapid growth in the nineteenth century, sections of the network, partly outmoded to transport requirements, either became redundant or in need of modernisation. Recent technological advances have enabled some upgrading to a system capable of supporting high speed and/or larger trains/boats with associated infrastructure. There are plans to expand the waterway network, especially in connecting East/Central Europe to Western Europe.  

 
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