Trans-European Railway project (TER)

The Trans-European Railway project (TER) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) seeks to develop a coherent and efficient network of rail and combined transport. In spatial terms it is concerned chiefly with the networks of central and eastern Europe and their links to western and southern Europe. It is thus highly important to Austria.


The initiative for a Cooperation Agreement on the Trans-European Railway project was taken by the UNECE in1988.
1 January 1993 saw the launch of the TER Trust Fund. This Fund finances the work of administration and organisation needed to implement the TER project.

The following states are members: Austria (since 1995), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey. Countries in the process of becoming members are: Switzerland, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Ukraine is an observer country.

Aim of the project

The aim of the project is to develop a coherent and efficient network of rail and combined transport in the countries of central and eastern Europe and to link this to western and southern Europe. Networks will in the medium term be made compliant with the standards of the European Agreement on Main International Railway Lines (AGC).

The European Union's Trans-European Networks are based partly on the TER corridors and various EU statements make express reference to TER.

In cooperation with the EU, TER (like its sister project for motorways, TEM) is working on a "master plan" for infrastructure in the member countries. By analogy with the Trans-European Networks (AGC/AGR standards), the aim is to build a subsidiary network based on TER standards, connecting to the more secondary network and closing existing gaps (see link: TEM and TERUNECE web site).

In the common TER database member countries exchange information on their rail networks and companies. Access to the database is free of charge for member country authorities. Private individuals (e.g. consultants) may also access it on payment of a fee.

Significance of TER for transport in Austria:

  • TER is consistent with the principles of Austria's transport policy: the promotion of combined transport and the switching of transport from road to rail;
  • TER is consistent with the resolutions of the Conference of Ministers of Transport of Central European Countries, which call for transport infrastructure to be developed and harmonised with a particular eye to environmentally friendly modes of transport;
  • because of its geographical position Austria acts as a bridge between western and eastern Europe in terms of transport infrastructure compatibility and interoperability, since TER members include not only EU Member States and non-EU members but also eastern European countries which use broad gauge track. (Broad gauge railways are those using a track width greater than the standard gauge of 1435 mm).
  • the priorities of TER are also important to Austria, since Austria's infrastructure interests lie chiefly in central and eastern Europe.