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Late projects risk losing TENs listing

ICE news

CONSTRUCTION OF key European transport projects is in danger of falling behind schedule because of problems raising fi nance, the European Commission's head of transport claimed last month.

EC director general for energy and transport Michael Schwartz warned that only three of the 14 priority transport projects identifi ed by the European Commission in 1994 to be completed by 2015 have been built.

These are Ireland's CorkDublin and Belfast-Stranraer rail line, Italy's Malpensa airport and the Öresund rail/road link between Denmark and Sweden.

Four further projects are expected to be completed by 2007.

But if these and the six other schemes with later delivery dates make no progress by 2010, the Commission will delete them from its wish list, he threatened.

Schwartz was speaking at the ICE's European Local Associations Conference (ELAC) in Munich, which focused on the state of European transport infrastructure. A record 12 countries were represented at the conference, which was chaired by country representative for Germany Hamish Douglas.

Two of the 10 outstanding projects are in the UK - the West Coast Main Line upgrade and the Ireland-UK-Benelux road link.

Schwartz said that the main obstacle to advancing projects was funding. 'The 20- to 30-year concession period puts investors off, ' he claimed.

He said that one solution would be to divert capital raised through road tolling into other infrastructure projects, such as extending or upgrading railways.

The Brenner toll road in Austria was 'charging too much', he said. Schwartz argued that surplus money should be redirected into Austrian railway projects.

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