Saturday, February 24, 2024

Belgium and Luxembourg request EU funding to improve cross-border railways

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Ministers of Mobility of Luxembourg and Belgium in Brussels George Gilkinette (via LinkedIn)

Belgian Transport Minister George Gilkinet and Luxembourg Minister Juriko Bax held their first official bilateral meeting in Brussels this week to assess shared rail projects and reiterate their joint rail ambitions.

The meeting follows the signing of a letter of intent on October 3, 2023 between Gilkinet and Luxembourg’s then-Minister of Transport François Bausch to strengthen rail cooperation between the two countries. Yuriko Bax has been serving as Minister of Mobility and Public Transport since November, replacing Bausch. In 2023, a new government will be inaugurated. By strengthening rail cooperation, the two countries aim to strengthen cross-border connections and attract more passengers to their railways, especially the approximately 45,000 daily commuters between Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

In the letter, the parties set out ambitious goals for 2040, including doubling the proportion of commuters choosing to travel by rail between the two countries and doubling rail freight volumes between Belgium and Luxembourg. It was set. Furthermore, it aims to make rail travel more attractive by reducing travel time between the two cities, with the aim of connecting Brussels and Luxembourg City in two hours by 2030. This prior joint commitment was also supported by the Belgian national railway company NMBS/SNCB. Luxembourg’s operating company, the Luxembourgeois National Chemistry Institute (CFL).

(From left to right) Georges Gilkinet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility in the Federal Government of Belgium; Minister of Defense Yuriko Bax, Minister of Mobility and Public Works, and Minister of Gender Equality and Diversity.
(From left to right) Georges Gilkinet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility of Belgium, and Jurico Bax, Minister of Defence, Mobility, Public Works, Gender Equality and Diversity of Luxembourg. (Photo: George Gilkinette on LinkedIn)

EU funding

Discussion focuses included the ongoing modernization initiatives of the Brussels-Luxembourg rail axis within the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and the strategic North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor. During the diplomatic talks, Ministers took an important step by jointly signing a letter of support appealing for financial support from the European Commission under the European Connectivity Facility programme. His EU funding mechanism aims to channel investment into Europe’s transport, energy and digital infrastructure to address gaps and bottlenecks.

Ministers initiated the development of a new high-speed rail connection between Brussels and Luxembourg by accelerating Axis 3 modernization efforts. Yuriko Bax underlined the importance of strengthening rail connections through the Brussels-Luxembourg line, calling it a top priority. The planned modernization is expected to streamline passenger journey times and increase rail’s transport share. The frequency of the existing IC link has been doubled and his recently introduced M7 vehicles are in service. Future developments also include the establishment of a direct link between Luxembourg and Libramont. It is expected that this connection will in the future be operated twice an hour, eliminating the need for commuters to transfer.

This initiative is consistent with a shared vision to establish interoperable and efficient rail networks, recognizing that rail networks are a critical component of intermodal mobility and make a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions. It has been. The Luxembourg Minister expressed his full reliance on the European Commission’s support to advance this important cross-border rail project.

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