European Trade & Logistics: The Development of the International E-Road Network

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In simple terms, the International E-Road Network is a road system that runs internationally, throughout the European continent and into Central Asia.

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The Development of Global E-Roads

In these times of economic difficulty in Europe, it is essential to maintain the essential trade routes through the continent. We have previously discussed the importance of rail freight on the Marpak blog, and in this article we are examining the development of the all-important International E-Road Network, and its impact on global trade.

As a company specialising in packaging for the transportation of goods, we maintain strong links with the logistics and shipping industry. The International E-Road Network is of central importance to those organisations that ship goods worldwide.

What is the International E-Road Network?

In simple terms, the International E-Road Network is a road system that runs internationally, throughout the European continent and into Central Asia. The designated route is the largest on the planet, and the network covers approximately 93,000 miles. it incorporates every major regional road in Europe, linking the largest cities and most important commercial and industrial areas with each other.

The original concept, also known as E-roads or Euroroutes, was to create a strategic network of roads that can be used for trans-European journeys, in particular those made for business or freight.

A History

A form of the International E-Road Network first appeared in the 1960s as a smaller network of routes that could be tracked across Europe. At the time the most strategic route available was the E5 that wound from London to Istanbul, across the length of Europe. In the 1970s UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) conducted a review on the roads and in 1975 came up with a newer network that incorporated a numbering system that mimicked the US freeway grid numbering principles.

In 1950 the UNECE signed a Joint United Nations declaration in Geneva which dealt with any construction on the international traffic routes as well as outlining the definition of the E-Road network. That declaration was reworked and improved many times and was eventually replaced by the AGR (European Agreement on Main International Traffic Arteries) in 1975, which set rules for how to number the routes and what the standards of the system and maintenance are to be adhered to.

The International E-Road Network was extended to Central Asia and Caucausus nations in December 2001. There have been several minor revisions since, the most recent being in 2009.

The International E-Road Network Numbering System

The numbering system that the Euroroute now uses was initially introduced in 1975 then revised in 1992. Simply put, the major routes are categorised by two digit numbers whereas the following tier of routes are given three digit numbers.

Class-A road is the title given to intermediate and reference roads which has two digit numbers. The branch, link and connecting roads are then called class-B roads which have three digit numbers.

Reference roads with north-south orientation have two digit odd numbers that terminate at the figure 5 and increase from west to east. Any east-west orientated reference roads also have two digit numbers which instead terminate at the figure 0 and increase from north-south.

Therefore, intermediate roads each have two digit odd or two digit even numbers respectively, dependent on where they are located within the numbers of the reference roads.

The three digit class-B roads are numbered as follows: the first digit signifies which is the nearest reference road north, the second digit shows the nearest reference road west and the third digit is a serial number.

Any class-A roads that are north-south orientated that are located eastward from road E 99 have three-digit odd numbers from 101-129. The same rules listed above apply to these roads.

Finally, any connecting, branch or link roads that are located eastwards of E 101 have three digit numbers that begin with 0, from 001-099.

Impact on Trade

The International E-Road Network has had a hugely beneficial impact on world trade, especially with the development of a strong European Union and the nurturing of valuable relationships as a result.

Using road transport for international trade has several advantages. Your consignments can be secure and private, it’s relatively low cost, the International E-Road Network offers extensive options which makes scheduling delivery days and next day delivery services much easier and you can schedule transport to suit you as well as track the location of your goods.

The Most Notable Roads In The International E-Road Network

  • The longest E-road in the network connects France and Kazakhstan, the E 40 which is more than 8,000 km long.
  • The shortest E-road is in Italy, the E 844 which is only 22km long.
  • The highest E-road in Europe is the E 62 which reaches 2005 m high at the Simplon Pass in Switzerland.
  • The lowest E-road in the entire network travels to 262 m below sea level in the Bømlafjord Tunnel in Norway.

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