Personal tools


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Capacity of transport infrastructure networks

Capacity of transport infrastructure networks

Topics: ,

Assessment made on  01 Sep 2004

Generic metadata


Transport Transport (Primary theme)

DPSIR: Driving force


Indicator codes
  • TERM 018
Geographic coverage:

Policy issue:  Optimise the use of existing infrastructure capacity and revitalise rail and inland waterways

Key messages

    • Most infrastructure extension work is concentrated on motorways and high-speed rail (HSR). The total length of motorways in the EEA-31 increased by almost 15 000 km (35 %) between 1990 and 2001, while that of HSR increased by almost 2000 km.
    • The construction of HSR and motorways (TEN) affects the natural environment through fragmentation and leads to increased demand and related environmental consequences. Therefore, environmental (SEA, EIA) and socio-economic (SCBA) assessments should be taken better into account and the consequences of these studies should be taken into consideration on the basis of clear criteria set.


Key assessment

While infrastructure length is only a proxy measure for capacity, the steady increase in the length of the road infrastructure between 1990 and 2000 (with motorways growing by 38 %), suggests that road capacity has expanded to the detriment of conventional rail and inland waterways that remained constant. This effect is even bigger for the new Member States. The length of motorways increased in these countries with 60 % -but from low levels-, while the length of other infrastructure remained stable. Increasing infrastructure capacity is not always necessary. Optimization of the current traffic flows through road pricing (congestion charging) is still limited throughout Europe. The application of these principles might be more beneficial to the society than the construction of new infrastructure when capacity problems arise.

Download detailed information and factsheets


Permalink to this version
Permalink to latest version

Related content


European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100