Reports 17 Jul 2023

Metropolitan Network: A strong European railway for an ever closer union

Deutsche Bahn (DB), together with European rail companies, has carried out a study on the expansion of high-speed rail transport in Europe. The proposal for a "Metropolitan Network" focuses on the specific expansion of rail lines for fast passenger trains across the continent and on the simulation of the resulting possible growth in transport volume on environmentally friendly rail. The starting point of the study is the European Commission's Green Deal. This intends to bring about a doubling in volume for European high-speed rail (HSR) by 2030 and a tripling by 2050, allowing it to make an important contribution to reducing carbon emissions in the transport sector. In the study, specialists analyzed what a Green Deal rail network would have to look like in order to achieve the EU's targets.

Based on the experience with high-speed lines already in service, the infrastructure that is planned or currently under construction appears insufficient to meet the Green Deal targets. From a demand-driven perspective, it appears that a broader network is required to effectively connect all the metropolitan regions in the European Union. These regions are home to more than 250 million citizens or approximately 60 percent of the European Union's population and thus presumably experience the highest transportation demand. A significantly larger HSR network could enable modal shift to HSR and additionally would set a coherent standard in transport quality all over Europe.

To obtain a well-founded and independent view on this vision, DB commissioned PTV Planung Transport Verkehr GmbH to carry out a study to simulate the effect on the achievability of the EU’s targets for 2030 and 2050. In a joint effort with a significant number of railway operators in Europe (ČD, NS, ÖBB, PKP Intercity, Renfe, SBB, SNCB, SNCF and Trenitalia), a travel demand model was developed which is able to predict natural growth of transport demand caused by changes in population and prosperity and the impact of reduced travel times within a better connected HSR network. To determine the multi-modal effects within the entire transport market, the model includes high-speed and conventional rail as well as private car, coach, and air transport. 

Read more in the full study report available to download below.