The Hamburg–Athens Corridor (also called the Orient/East Mediterranean Corridor) is one of Europe’s central north–south transport corridors. It connects the harbours of northern Germany with the Balkan states, the Adriatic harbours, Danube harbours and Mediterranean harbours of Thessaloniki and Athens. Improvements could lead to an increase in railway capacities, passenger numbers and better conditions for freight rail transport. In addition, travel times and costs for freight and passenger transport could fall. In all of these possibilities, it will be important to respect the requirements of a sustainable spatial development and to use the opportunities for the urban development of the respective countries.
Considering the above viewpoint, the Hamburg–Athens Corridor is currently a descriptive example for an infrastructural deficit, missing connections and bottlenecks. As soon as the corridor gains stability, it could strengthen the eastern Member States of the expanded EU with a capable and effective railway axis and give the living spaces in the catchment areas a stimulus for sustainable development, not least in the interests of Europe itself. The project will be coordinated by the ARL (Academy for Spatial Research and Planning), Germany, whereby Prof. Dr. Bernd Scholl has been delegated the role of Project Leader and Chairperson of the Working Group, which comprises numerous experts from various countries.
To date, four ARL Working Party meetings have been conducted. The first meeting, held in Prague, was dedicated to the development of the corridor in the border region between Germany and the Czech Republic. The current state of the community initiative on the development of the Dresden–Prague railway line was explained. The second meeting, in Vienna, gathered experts from the different transport companies, in order to present the strategy for Vienna as a transport node in association with the integrated spatial and transport development. The third meeting clarified the importance of railway and harbour development at the entrance and exit of the entire corridor in Athens and discussed the importance of future construction in Athens. The last meeting elucidated the possibilities of integrated spatial and railway transport development in Belgrade.