Introduction

What are we about?

Sintropher (Sustainable Integrated Transport Options for Peripheral European Regions) is a transnational co-operation project bringing together 7 regions in 5 countries in North West Europe. The aim is to develop sustainable, cost-effective solutions to improve connectivity for poorly connected regions in North West Europe.

The project began in 2009, was initially completed in 2014, and then extended for follow-on work to 2015. It has involved 14 (from 2014 onwards 16) partner agencies - public transport operators, local authorities, regional transport bodies, and universities - with University College London as the Lead Partner.  They cover 7 regions: Valenciennes (France); Fylde Coast (UK); western West Flanders (Belgium); Nordhessen (Germany); Arnhem-Nijmegen (Netherlands) Saar-Moselle (France-Germany cross-border region) and eastern West Flanders (Belgium) - the last 2 added in 2014 as part of the project extension.

There is a focus on tram-train systems, pioneered in Germany firstly in Karlsruhe and developed in Kassel, which allow urban tram systems to extend over national rail tracks to serve extensive city regions. The project has also looked at other innovative systems such as single-track tramways, as well as high-quality transport interchanges that link such systems to national or transnational rail or air hubs. 

The €27m budget has been part-financed by the EU INTERREG IVB Programme with almost €8m ERDF. It has involved feasibility evaluations, pilot investments and demonstration projects, and overviews of EU best practice - plus a series of transnational workshops, two major conferences in Brussels and London, and a final Briefing Seminar in Brussels in 2015 for European transport-related organisations, chaired by Michael Cramer MEP, the Chair of the European Parliament Transport & Tourism Committee.

A key feature of the project is transnational cooperation. By working together, each region has the opportunity to benefit from knowledge transfer, joint problem-solving on economic and technological issues, exchange of experience, pilot projects and demonstration projects, and capitalising on best practice across the EU.

Further details about the INTERREG IVB programme for North-West Europe can be found at www.nweurope.eu.