Why are model highways important to the broader discussion on trade corridors?
Border crossings are proved to be the main obstacles to freight flows in many parts of the world, adding substantial time and cost to transport and trade. Improvement of border crossings and upgrading of driving conditions (comfort, safety and security) are the main preconditions for the provision of efficient level of service to international trade flows.
Model Highways (MH), defined by the International Road Transport Union, are selected stretches of international roads crossing several Euro-Asian countries, with strategic importance for interconnecting and promoting Euro-Asian trade and transit by road to major world markets. They are meant to be exemplary roads with: modern ancillary infrastructure and supporting roadside facilities; harmonized customs procedures aligned with International Conventions and best practices; and border crossing points meeting state-of-the-art procedural infrastructural and technical requirements.
What does your study reveal about the conditions to make a model highway successful?
Despite the progressive development of main road infrastructure, the development of roadside facilities and the improvement of conditions and services at border crossings points are lagging behind, resulting underutilization of main national and international road routes. Traffic is diverted to longest – and not better – road routes or other transport modes, especially to avoid long waiting and procedural border times, bureaucracy and bribery, freight crime, and generally any condition that makes the driver’s life hard and the transport company’s risks and costs higher.
The success of a MH is in function with the political commitment and support for the implementation of coordinated plans of road infrastructure development, whilst projects’ funding depends on the increase of the attractiveness of each MH section, to ensure return of investments. In this aspect, the necessary preconditions for a successful implementation of the MH concept are: radical improvements at border crossings; legal and administrative reforms relevant to customs, road ancillary infrastructure development, private and foreign investors’ involvement; and provision of direct access and non-discriminatory treatment of Road Transport at intermodal nodes (e.g. Ports, logistic centers).
As a researcher, what is the chief value of presenting your work at an IRF conference?
The IRF is an international organization, with remarkable and acknowledged contribution to the development of all aspects related to Road Transport worldwide. The IRF inter alia provides a platform of cooperation and exchange of experiences and best practices: scientific, technical and innovative issues, education and training.
Participating and presenting my work at an IRF conference is an opportunity to disseminate project-specific results, exchange views and promote further the implementation of the ΜΗ initiative, to investigate potentials on establishing new cooperative schemes and projects in the region, and at the same time to learn and receive valuable information on evolutions regarding several components of the road transport industry and research.