September 11 - The European Commission has invited Member States to propose projects to use EUR1.9 billion (USD2.4 billion) of EU funding to improve European transport connections.

This is the largest ever single amount of funding earmarked for transport infrastructure.

The funding will be concentrated along nine major transport corridors which, taken together, will form a core transport network. The funding will remove bottlenecks, revolutionise east-west connections and streamline cross border transport operations for businesses and citizens throughout the EU, said the Commission.

Commission vice president Siim Kallas, who is responsible for transport, commented: "Transport is fundamental to an efficient European economy, so investing in transport connections to fuel the economic recovery is more important than ever. Areas of Europe without good transport connections are not going to grow or prosper."

EU financing for transport has tripled to EUR26 billion (USD33.5 billion) for the period 2014-2020, compared to the EUR8 billion (USD10.3 billion) for 2007-2013, under the new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

Taken together, the tripling of transport financing, combined with the decision to tightly focus the funding along nine major EU transport corridors, amounts to the most radical overhaul of EU transport infrastructure policy since its inception in the 1980s.

The new core network, to be established by 2030, will connect: 94 main European ports with rail and road links; 38 key airports with rail connections into major cities; 15,000 km of railway line upgraded to high speed; and 35 cross border projects to reduce bottlenecks.

Member States have until February 26, 2015 to submit their bids.