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Great Axis

Concept of the Freight Rail Great Axis Scandinavia-Rhine-Rhone-Western Mediterranean

The rail network comprising of the FERRMED Great Axis includes the zone of most important economic and logistic activity of the European Union, including the major ports and airports. In fact FERRMED Great Axis Rail Network is the backbone of EULER vector.

This is the reason why FERRMED Association has chosen this zone to analyze in detail the implications of the implementation of FERRMED Standards and carry out a Supply/Demand, Technical, Socioeconomic Global Study, business oriented, in the whole zone of its influence. It enables us to determine, from three points of view –entrepreneurial, social and environmental– the action plans necessary to substantially improve the competitiveness of all sectors of economic activity.
The Study takes into consideration all modes of transportation in order to evaluate and to balance them optimally, with the aim of attaining a share for rail of 30-35% from the totality of long distance land transportation.

The philosophy, criteria and results of the aforementioned Global Study should be useful as a guide for the development of other trans-European rail great axes and to carry out a more detailed analysis in specific geographical areas.


The main trunk of the Great Axis Network - linking previously Northern Sweden, Finland, Russia and Baltic States- begins in Stockholm, crosses the Öresund and Fehmarn straits, and connects, in a fan-shaped manner, all the ports of the western Baltic Sea and the North Sea, as well as the United Kingdom and join together the major inland ports.

From Koblenz, the main trunk subdivides in two principal branches:

  • The Western principal branch, that passes through the Rhine and Rhone valleys going from one to another in Luxembourg and Metz, moves along the western Mediterranean coast from Marseille and Genoa until Algeciras, approaches Morocco and Algeria, and interconnects the most important East-West axes of the European Union.
  • The Eastern principal branch, which from Koblenz goes to the south by the Rhine Valley to Basel and Bern, and from Bern to MilanTorino, and Genoa crossing the Swiss Alps.

Besides the main trunk, all leading lines included in the FERRMED Great Axis Network are taken into consideration, especially two additional parallel branches:

  • One starting in Saint Petersburg that goes to Tallinn, Riga, Klaipeda, Kaliningrad, Gdansk, Szczecin, Berlin, Nürmberg, München, Innsbruck, Verona, Bologna, Livorno and Civitavecchia.
  • One starting in Duisburg, continues to Amsterdam and Rotterdam and from there towards Antwerp, Brussels, Paris, Limoges, Toulouse and Barcelona (with a possible complementary link to Lleida and Zaragoza). 

We also consider all the sections East-West situated in the FERRMED Great Axis Network like the interconnections:

  • East direction:
    • From Sweden to Finland and the North of Russia (linking with trans-Siberian northern branch) 
    • From the Netherland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France to Germany. 
    • From France to Switzerland and Italy.
    • From Germany, Switzerland and Italy to Eastern E.U. countries.
    • From Algeciras/Tangier to Algeria.
  • West direction
    • From Sweden to Norway.
    • From France to the United Kingdom.
    • From the Mediterranean Coast to French Atlantic Coast, to the central part of Spain and Portugal.
    • From Tangier to Rabat and Casablanca.

Thus, the “concept of FERRMED Great Axis” incorporates the areas going from Saint Petersburg in Russia, through the South of Finland, almost all Estonia, the majority of Latvia, the Western part of Lithuania, the town of Kaliningrad in Russia, the South half of Sweden, the area of Oslo town in Norway, Denmark, the majority of Germany, the North-West corner of Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, the South-East part of Great Britain, the majority of France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, the Western corner of Austria, the North-West of Italy, Andorra, the Eastern and Southern part of Spain and finally the North of Morocco and Algeria.