Analysis of the Upper Rhine transport corridor

Meeting in Mannheim on 11 June 2013, the directors of the Upper Rhine ports shared an analysis of the strong points of and the current limitations to the development of the Upper Rhine corridor.

To work collectively on their development, the consortium of Upper Rhine ports – Strasbourg, Kehl, Colmar, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Karlsruhe, RheinPorts Basel-Mulhouse-Weil – adopted a common approach in September 2012, supported by the European Commission, in becoming part of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). Launched officially in Strasbourg on 26 November last, the project aims eventually to develop a more efficient range of multimodal services and provisions along the full extent of the Upper Rhine.

In January 2013, the consortium was augmented by the services of an assistant in project management in order to compile an inventory of and analyse any and all studies and data available on the Upper Rhine ports and their hinterland. On that basis, the consultancy firms Mensia Conseil (Paris) and Steinbeis Europa Zentrum (Karlsruhe) compiled an initial summary of the strong points of and the current limitations to the development of the Upper Rhine corridor. They also identified the complementary studies to be undertaken to gain a comprehensive overview of the corridor.

This analysis confirms that, over and above its advantageous geographical situation at the centre of Europe and the intersection of major transport networks, the Upper Rhine has a real advantage in terms of logistics with a network of port hubs that offer any number of synergies and an efficient range of multimodal services.

Now according to the study, inter-port cooperation is vital in enhancing the impact of any actions undertaken by the port hubs on the development and competitiveness of the region and in taking up the principal challenges facing the economic players. Among those challenges, we can cite, for instance, the issue of crossing the border by railway (interoperability), the limitations of network capacity (rail and road) and the constraints regarding road access to the port hubs, in addition to the availability of logistics real estate, the question of the interface between logistics activities and urban zones and the resources that can be exploited to undertake the investments essential to a more environmentally friendly transport industry.