Moving Mountains on One of Europe’s Main Trans-Alpine Routes 

The Baltic-Adriatic Corridor rail freight corridor will speed up with the opening of two major tunnels.

A marshalling yard it he evening
The Baltic-Adriatic Corridor, connecting Polish ports in the Baltic Sea and Slovene and Italian ports on the Adriatic Sea, will improve transport capabilities in the 3Seas Region. Photo: iStock.com / Mf-guddyx

Improving the transport capabilities between the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic seas is one of the main objectives of the Three Seas Initiative. The Baltic-Adriatic Corridor, connecting Polish ports in the Baltic Sea and Slovene and Italian ports on the Adriatic Sea, will play a key role in achieving that goal. The railway corridor is already operational, but several projects are underway to increase the speed with which freight can be sent across the continent through one of its main trans-alpine routes. 

Baltic-Adriatic Corridor to link major urban areas in CEE

The plan to create a high-capacity north-south railway and road corridor traversing Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, and Italy dates back to an initiative from the Austrian transportation ministry proposed in 2006. The main rationale behind the Baltic-Adriatic Corridor project is the need to link major nodes such as urban areas, ports, airports, and other transport terminals through rail, road, maritime, and air transport connections. 

The countries involved realized the mutual benefits of eliminating bottlenecks and creating intermodal links of traffic flows that connect with other official European transport corridors designated by the EU. An important component of the project is the goal of moving as much freight off roads, in favor of rail, as possible. The result will be less pollution, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and fewer road accidents.

The start of work on essential stretches

In 2008,  the Austrians started work on one of the corridor’s most essential stretches, the Koralm Railway between Graz and Klagenfurt, including the 33 km long Koralm Tunnel. It is expected to become operational by 2025. Four years later, construction teams started drilling the Semmering Base Tunnel, which will remove another significant bottleneck, the Semmering Pass, by going beneath it. The first trains will be able to pass through in 2027. 

In 2011, it was decided that the Baltic-Adriatic Corridor would be linked with the TEN-T Rail Baltica project that will lead from Warsaw through the Baltic states to Helsinki, Finland. A year later, the Italian government committed to extending the Baltic–Adriatic Corridor to Ancona, 325 km south of Venice. In total, the Baltic-Adriatic Corridor covers a total length of 5,200 km of railway lines. It involves more than 80 multimodal terminals and maritime ports, linking economically advanced areas and industrial regions such as Warsaw, Silesia, Ostrava, Vienna, Bratislava, Veneto, and Bologna. 

The ports on the Adriatic Sea offer the region the cheapest and shortest naval route from the Far East to Europe via the Suez Canal. These are trade routes that have only grown in importance in recent years. The improved speed for freight transport offered by the Austrian tunnel projects and the construction of the 27 km-long second track between the Slovene Port of Koper and the rest of the country’s railway system starting at Divača will make the route a more attractive choice.

Once implemented, the new infrastructure projects will breathe new energy into an all-ready successful project, bringing increased prosperity and better living conditions for the 125 million people living along the Baltic-Adriatic corridor.

Filip Rey

Filip Rey comes from a Polish family that left the country following the outbreak of the Second World War and settled in Switzerland after a short interlude in Paris. Filip returned to Poland for his university studies in 2014 in order to better get to know the country of his grandparents. He specializes in International Relations and Security Studies, applying his knowledge within those fields to analyze the geopolitics of Central Eastern Europe

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