Road-rail-road CT requires infrastructure: road links from industrial sites to the terminals CT terminals connecting first and last rail lines to the long-distance network, another terminal in the destination region and road links there as well. The European rail infrastructure is not a single homogeneous network, but instead is composed of different national railway systems with very varied technical standards, most notably at the level of the infrastructure itself, of the electrical power supply system, and of the system of safety and control. The present chapter summarizes the key reference documents and initiatives for the development of an integrated single railway area.

2.2.1 AGTC

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has for decades, even in the difficult times before the fall of the iron curtain, done substantial efforts to reach and extend a “European Agreement on Main International Railway Lines” and “European Agreement on Important International Combined Transport Lines and Related Installations” (AGTC)[1], defining common standards and parameter (Table 2.3). The agreement entered into force in 1989 and currently has 30 countries signed up to it. With the extension of the EU and for the creation of a European railway market it is even more important to follow and accelerate this approach, i.e., the implementation and harmonization of technical infrastructure parameters Europe-wide—relevant to the AGTC structure[2].

[1] see

2.2.2 Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T)

The Trans-European Network (TEN) is an EU-defined high-level transport network and instrument for the standardization of transport systems. In the long term, cross-border connections are to be improved, weak links are to be national networks, and connecting peripheral regions and combining and interconnecting the different modes of transport through better interoperability. TEN is an umbrella term which summarizes the activities of the EU in the areas of  the transport infrastructure (i.e., TEN-T), the telecommunications infrastructure, (i.e., eTEN), and energy infrastructure (i.e., TEN-Energy).

TEN-T policy aims to implement and develop a Europe-wide network of railways, roads, inland waterways, maritime routes, ports, airports, and rail-road (i.e., intermodal) terminals. The objective is to close gaps, remove bottlenecks, and technical barriers as well as strengthen social, economic, and territorial cohesion in the EU. 

The current TEN-T policy is based on Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013. For TEN-T, the EU Commission envisages two network layers:

  1. Core network which includes most of the important connections, linking the most important nodes, with the goal of being completed by 2030; and 
  2. Comprehensive network which covers all European regions with the goal of being completed by 2050.

The railway infrastructure requirements for the core network are described as follows: (1) full electrification of the line tracks with as much siding as needed, (2) at least 22,5 t axle load, 100 km/h line speed, and the possibility of running trains with a length of 740 m, (3) full deployment of ERTMS, and (4) a nominal track gauge for new railway lines of 1,435 mm (Figure 2.3).

The freight terminals and their respective first and last mile connections are listed as components of the railway infrastructure and are also connected with road infrastructure as part of the comprehensive network. They partake as nodes of the TEN-T core network if their annual transshipment of freight exceeds 800,000 tonnes for non-bulk cargo and 0.1% of the corresponding total annual cargo volume is handled. Terminals shall be equipped with cranes, conveyors, and other devices to move freight between different transport modes.

2.2.3 RFC Regulation

The Regulation concerning a European Rail Network for Competitive Freight (Regulation EU 913/2010) entered into force on 9 November 2010. The Regulation requests Member States to establish international market-oriented rail freight corridors (Figure 2.4) to meet three challenges:

  1. Strengthen co-operation between infrastructure managers on key aspects such as allocation of path, deployment of interoperable systems, and infrastructure development;
  2. Strike the right balance between freight and passenger traffic along the rail freight forridors, giving adequate capacity and priority for freight in line with market needs and ensuring that common punctuality targets for freight trains are met; and
  3. Promote intermodality between rail and other transport modes by integrating terminals into the corridor management and development.

The involvement of partners along the logistic chain is important to the management board of every RFC (i.e., Member States and IMs). On each RFC, specific advisory boards have been designed and created:

  • The Railway Advisory Group (RAG) represents a platform for railway undertakings to facilitate the exchange of information, recommendations, and mutual understanding about technical and operational issues of rail operators with the Management Board. UIC is responsible for the coordination of all RAG RFC speakers.
  • The Terminal Advisory Group (TAG) represents a platform for managers and owners of terminals and port authorities to facilitate the exchange of information or recommendations about technical and operational issues, respectively strategic plans for improvements with the Management Board. The TAG may issue an opinion on any proposal by the MB which has direct consequences for investment and the management of terminals. UIRR has been named as the coordinator of all TAG RFC speakers.

2.2.4 Register of Infrastructure (RINF)

Register of Infrastructure (RINF) is the common platform where railway stakeholders, e.g., railway undertakings, intermodal operators, terminal managers, manufacturers, wagon keepers, etc. The Register consults on any railway infrastructure-related information. In particular, RINF is intended to be the “stable reference infrastructure description” of all European infrastructure managers. The RINF system comprises of a web-based user interface and is accessible from any computer with an internet browser and network accessibility. The Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/777 of 16 May 2019 on the common specifications for the register of railway infrastructure can be found here:

Today the primary objective of RINF is to support the process of assessing the route compatibility between rolling stock and its route. For CT, the RINF data are useful to railway undertakings to fulfil their obligations to perform the railway gauge check when transporting non-ISO loading units and/or (craneable) semi-trailers. For intermodal operators it would support the planning and preparation of the freight trains. RINF should compile all intermodal railway gauges for all lines allowing the transport of intermodal loading units—C for swap bodies and P for semi-trailers. The aim is to create a map with all lines for C and P coding (see Figure 2.5 for a best practices example from the UIRR map).

2.2.5 Directive 2012/34

Directive 2012/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council dated 21 November 2012 established a single European railway area providing a mandated track access regime for third-party railway operators. Infrastructure managers are required to grant non-discriminatory access to railway undertakings (and other possible applicants listed in the Directive) operating on the European railway network by following conditions:

  • The principle of open access applies to the use of railway infrastructure for domestic and international rail services.
  • Member states may exclude specific network and services from the mandated track access regime, such as local and regional stand-alone networks, networks intended for the operation of urban or suburban passenger rail services only, or infrastructure whose track gauge is different from the main rail network within the EU.
  • The core provisions of the Directive set out the requirements and procedures for the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and methods for the calculation and collection of infrastructure charges.

In addition, with the adoption of the implementing Regulation 2017/2177 on access to service facilities and rail-related services, the aim is to increase transparency in the market for all service facilities as defined in the Directive by imposing to the service facility operators to make publicly available information on their facilities such as access conditions, technical characteristics, general information etc. In this context, RNE and UIRR have jointly decided to operate a European Portal to facilitate the exchange of information between the service facility operators and the railway users such as RUs, CT operators, and shippers. The portal is available at

2.2.6 Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a key EU funding instrument to promote growth, jobs, and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at the European level. It supports the development of high performing, sustainable, and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy, and digital services. CEF investments fill the missing links in Europe’s energy, transport, and digital backbone.

CEF Transport is the funding instrument to realize European transport infrastructure policy. It aims at supporting investments in building new transport infrastructure in Europe or rehabilitating and upgrading the existing one. CEF Transport focuses on cross-border projects and projects aiming at removing bottlenecks or bridging missing links in various sections of the core network and on the comprehensive network (link), as well as for horizontal priorities such as traffic management systems. CEF Transport also supports innovation in the transport system in order to improve the use of infrastructure, as well as to reduce the environmental impact of transport, enhance energy efficiency, and increase safety.

The CEF program is supported and managed by the European Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Executive Agency which is the successor organization of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency. Officially established on 15 February 2021, it started its activities on 1 April 2021 in order to implement parts of certain EU programs.