The international E-road network is a numbering system for roads in Europe developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The network is numbered from E1 up and its roads cross national borders. It also reaches Central Asian countries like Kyrgyzstan, since they are members of the UNECE.
In most countries, roads carry the European route designation beside national road numbers. Other countries like Belgium and Sweden have roads with exclusive European route signage. E-roads in the United Kingdom are not signposted at all, and are not recognised by the UK authorities, while the Republic of Ireland has started to place E-route numbers on recent road schemes (2007).
Other continents have similar international road networks: e.g. the Pan-American Highway in the Americas, the Trans-African Highway Network, and the Asian Highway Network.
The route numbering system, defined by UNECE since 1975, went through a major change in 1992 and is now as follows:
- Reference roads and intermediate roads, called Class-A roads, have two-digit numbers. Branch, link and connecting roads, called Class-B roads, have three-digit numbers.
- In general:
North-south Class-A roads located eastwards of road E99 have three-digit odd numbers from 101 to 129. Other rules mentioned in paragraph 2 above apply to these roads.
Class-B roads located eastwards of E101 have 3-digit numbers beginning with 0, from 001 to 099.
- North-south reference roads have two-digit numbers terminating in the figure 5 and increasing from west to east.
- East-west reference roads have two-digit numbers terminating in the figure 0 and increasing from north to south.
- Intermediate roads have two-digit odd (north-south) or two-digit even (west-east) numbers between the numbers of the reference roads between which they are located.
- Class-B roads have three-digit numbers, the first digit being that of the nearest reference road to the north, the second digit being that of the nearest reference road to the west, and the third digit being a serial number.
In the first established and approved version, the road numbers were well ordered. Since then a number of exceptions to this principle have been allowed.
Two Class-A roads, namely E47 and E55, have been allowed to retain their pre-1992 numbers, E6 and E4 respectively, within Sweden and Norway. These exceptions were granted because the excessive expense connected with re-signing not only the long routes themselves, but also the associated road network in the area, since Sweden and Norway have integrated the E-roads into their national networks and they are signposted as any other national route. These roads maintain their new numbers from Denmark and southward, though, as are other European routes within Scandinavia.
Further exceptions are E67, going from Estonia to Poland (wrong side of E75 and E77), assigned around year 2000, simply because it was best available number for this new route, most of E63 in Finland (wrong side of E75) E8 in Finland (partly on the wrong side of E12 after a lengthening around 2002) and E82 (Spain and Portugal, wrong side of E80). These irregularities exist just because it is hard to maintain good order when extending the network, and the UNECE does not want to change road numbers unnecessarily.
Notes to the listings
In the road listings below, a hyphen ('–') indicates a land road connection between two towns/cities—the normal case—while an ellipsis (three dots, '…') denotes a stretch across water. There are not ferry
connections at all these places. Usually the international ferry connections are operated by commercial companies without support or contracts with any government to operate them. This means existing lines can be cancelled.
Class A roads
Class B roads
The European routes are signposted with the green number sign at right.
There are different strategies for determining how frequently to signpost the roads.
- Sweden, Norway and Denmark have integrated the E-road numbers into their networks, meaning that the roads usually have no other national number.
- In Belgium, E-numbers are associated with motorways: for those, only the E-number is signposted, while for non-motorways only the national number (if any) is shown. Serbia has a similar principle.
- In most of the countries the E-roads form a network on top of the national network. The green signs are frequent enough to show how to follow the roads, but do not usually show how to reach them.
- In some countries, like Croatia, E-roads are well signposted, but follow the old state routes instead of highways. State highways are much better signposted than E-roads, making them a much better choice.
- In some countries, like Germany, E-roads are poorly signposted, making it difficult to follow them. Drivers have to use the national network.
- In Ireland, they also are poorly signposted. In July 2007, the N11 bypass in Gorey, Republic of Ireland, opened with very small E01 markers added to route confirmation signs, this was the first road with E-road markers in Ireland. Since then a recent new section of the N8 opened with larger E201 markers. A resigning of the M1 Motorway took place in July 2008 - here too, E01 markers have been included. A new version of the Traffic Signs Manual 1996 may confirm this new policy but has yet to be published.
- In a few countries, such as the United Kingdom or Uzbekistan, the E-roads are not signposted at all. In the UK, E-roads are not recognised, even by the official authorities, and it is quite possible to say from a legal point of view that there are no E-roads in the UK.
In the E-road convention (from 1975) there are standard requirements indicated. The roads have to be paved, at least wide, not have too sharp bends (suitable for at least 80 km/h, exceptionally 60 km/h), be priority roads, bypass cities and villages and other requirements. They shall have enough capacity to avoid congestion, and preferably have highway or expressway status.
In reality these requirements have not been followed stringently, when new E-roads have been added. For example the E45 in Sweden, added 2006, have long parts with width. The E10 in Norway have parts with width. In Central Asia some gravel roads have been included.
- The longest E-road is E40, which is more than 8000 km (5000 miles) long, connecting France with Kazakhstan.
- The shortest E-roads are E844, 22 km (13.75 miles), in Italy and E32, 30 km (18.75 miles), in the United Kingdom.
- Northernmost is E69, North Cape, Norway, 71°10' N
- Westernmost is E01, Lisbon, Portugal, 9°10' W
- Southernmost is E75, Crete, Greece, 35°6' N
- Easternmost is E127, Maikapshagai, Kazakhstan, 85°36' E
- The highest E-road is E008 which reaches 4272 m (13562 ft) altitude in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan.
- The highest E-road in Europe is E62 reaching 2005m (6365 ft) at the Simplon Pass, Switzerland.
- The lowest E-road is E39 which reaches 262 m (832 ft) below sea level in the Bømlafjordtunnel, Norway.