AG4 - 11th Action Group Meeting

Meeting topic: 

The 11th AG4 Action Group Meeting took place on 4 June 2019 in Innsbruck and the members immediately plunged into an informative exchange of the latest news and most current updates on topics including local politics, mobility policies, and infrastructure projects in their respective countries, regions, or organizations.

The AG4 is actively contributing to shaping the Italian EUSALP Presidency's programme: At the recent Smart Villages event, the AG4 participated in the broad debate about the use of innovative technologies for improving service provision in remote areas in order to prevent depopulation. The AG4 Leader had recruited an expert presenting Smart Mobility topics including “Rural Shared Mobility” and “Digital Solutions”. Moreover, the AG4 Leader was an important addition to the conference's round table as the discussion turned to the topic of Smart Mobility many times. The course of the conversation highlighted the centrality of Smart Mobility, the relevance for the AG4's New Work Plan, and pointed to topical overlaps between AG4, AG5, AG9, and AG3 within the Smart Villages concept.
Also, the AG4 is involved in designing a technical workshop on “Intermodality of Transport Systems and Maritime dimension” on 26 September in Trieste regarding content, participants, and speakers for this workshop on connectivity in the Alpine Region.
Building on the results of the above mentioned technical workshop, a high-level political workshop on freight transport and intermodal logistics including ports and corridors like the Rhine-Alpine EGTC is foreseen for 22 October in Genoa. Again, the AG4 will contribute to the development of this workshop.

Developing cooperation and greater integration in the field of transport is among its major objectives; therefore, it is very welcome to the AG4 that Région Sud Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur has not only taken up the co-lead of AG4 recently, but will soon join the project consortium of iMONITRAF! and, thus, also attend the upcoming iMONITRAF! partner meeting on 21 June in Zurich.
Moreover, collaborative ties between the EUSALP AG4 and the Alpine Convention Working Group Transport remain strong: Firstly, the AGL will attend the 40th meeting of the Alpine Convention WG Transport on 13 June in Grenoble. Secondly, as anticipated at the last AG4 meeting, the latest update at the 11th AG4 meeting confirmed that the WG’s reports on (1) Deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure – Implementing the EU Directive 2014/94/EU on the Alpine territory; (2) Innovation in Rail Freight; and on (3) Assessment of external costs induced by noise in mountainous areas; as well as the new mandate for the WG Transport had been approved by the XV Alpine Conference on 4 April 2019. Furthermore, similar to the AG4, the WG Transport has plans to produce a political position paper, namely on modal shift and traffic reduction. This regular exchange clearly serves the AG4’s objective of ensuring consistency between existing initiatives in order to avoid duplications.

As forecasted in the update on the ARPAF project CrossBorder at the previous AG4 meeting, the consultancy KcW’s investigation of innovative solutions for public authorities and transport operators has proceeded to Working Step 3. Of the cross-border commuter hot spots Basel, Arc Jurassien, Ticino, Trieste-Slovenia, Kufstein-Rosenheim, and Terra Rhaetica, local workshops have already taken place for the latter two and shown that these regions are dealing with very different challenges. Finally, while there will be another political steering committee meeting on 17 June in Feldkirch, the ARPAF project CrossBorder is going to be finished shortly. A complete review presenting project outputs is planned for the EUSALP Annual Forum on 27 and 28 November in Milan.

A new EUSALP communication activity aiming at creating a series of videos about the implementation activities of the EUSALP Action Groups has been developed. Thus, as communication leader, AG1 has started to prepare the production of such image videos for each AG in a “storytelling” format. Since the AG4 is a very diverse, broad, and big AG, it is important to find ways to incorporate material from as many members as possible in order to be able to accurately depict the whole AG4; thus, members are invited to hand in any suggestions for additional material. The video is expected to be ready for presentation at the EB and BAGL meetings on 23 and 24 October in Milan.

Currently, the European Commission is conducting a consultation on the revision of the TEN-T network based on Regulation 1315/2013. While this consultation is targeted not only at public transport authorities and transport operators but also open to the general public, the AG4 has identified an added value in a coordinated feedback. Such a feedback by the entire EUSALP AG4 helps to communicate to the EU the importance of the TEN-T network for the Alpine Region.

The preparatory study to investigate and optimise multi-modal logistic chains (AG4 Activity C2) presented at the last AG4 meeting is progressing well; the first dialogue workshop with relevant stakeholders, such as a Tyrolean terminal operating company, has taken place on 3 June in Innsbruck; further workshops in the Alpine regions Veneto, Piedmont, and Basel/Freiburg will be held within the current month. The finalized results of this activity, including a final report and a WebGIS, will be presented at the 12th AG4 meeting in Genoa.

Again, the development of the new EUSALP AG4 Work Plan 2019 to 2022 occupied a central position at this AG4 meeting. Part 1 of the draft deals with horizontal activities including monitoring activities; assuming a more active role in policy development; funding opportunities; and external communication of AG4 activities and results, which are typical transversal activities. Part 2, however, outlines the three thematic areas 1. Smart clean logistics and combined transport to support modal shift; 2. Accessibility on local and regional transport links (Infrastructure and scheduled public transport); and 3. Smart and low-carbon mobility & innovative public transport solutions. These thematic areas suggest potential topics as well as sub-groups for the work of the AG4. Additionally, Xavier Garcia (AGL) proposed a sub-group on innovative propulsion systems and fuels and from among the members there was a proposal for a sub-group on “Masterplan ports and inland terminals”. Within this year, thematic areas and corresponding sub-groups will be refined in the AG4 and the Work Plan, thus, finalized.

After a joint lunch, Ingrid Felipe, Vice-President and Councilor for Mobility of Tyrol, extended a warm welcome to the AG4 and specifically welcomed the French colleagues from Région Sud-PACA as addition to the AG4 Lead Team. According to Felipe, this development in the Lead Team points to the growing importance of the topic of mobility and transport in order to preserve the quality of life in the Alpine Region. The stable increase of traffic along the Brenner corridor as well as other transalpine routes puts the Alpine population as well as politics under enormous pressure. In this regard, she thanked the experts in the AG4 for their work, on which politicians had to rely and promised her full support for the new AG4 Work Plan. Finally, she prompted the AG4 to take advantage of the present window of opportunity due to the currently high level of awareness for sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyles.

Based on the insights and results gained from the AG4’s research activities as well as internal discussions during the period 2016-2019, the need for political action towards streamlining policy frameworks becomes obvious. The study on external costs; the study on integrated pricing; the conflict map; and the pilot study on infrastructure for combined transport (terminals) all point towards the need for an integrated incentive system for modal shift (AG4 Activity B2). Thus, the AG4 is discussing a proposal for a political statement “Towards a coordinated policy framework”. This activity is also in line with the AG4’s plans to assume a more active role in policy development in the new Work Plan.

Currently, the AG4’s Task Force is working on concluding the development of a methodology for a systematic assessment of individual projects (AG4 Activities C1 – C2 – D1) and optimizing the methodology by carrying out noncommittal test runs of project assessments. Among the projects to be assessed is the Ausserfern railway. For this project, Tyrol had carried out a feasibility study, the results of which were presented at this AG4 meeting. From a broader perspective, this Ausserfern railway can be embedded in the “Alpine Cross” project in the wider Rhaetian triangle “Terra Raetica” (Switzerland, Austria, Italy) – another project presented at the meeting.

The 12th meeting of EUSALP AG4 will take place on 21 October 2019 in Genoa.

For further information on contents and presentations please do not hesitate to contact the EUSALP AG4 Lead Team: 

Herrengasse 3, 6020 Innsbruck