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Freight transport demand - outlook from EEA (Outlook 055) - Assessment published Jun 2007

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 08 Jan 2007 Published 08 Jun 2007 Last modified 12 Nov 2013, 09:38 AM
This content has been archived on 12 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated
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Generic metadata


Environmental scenarios Environmental scenarios (Primary topic)

Transport Transport

freight activity | modal split | forward looking indicators | transport
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • Outlook 055
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Key policy question: Is freight transport demand being decoupled from economic growth?

Key messages

The volume of freight transport is projected to increase at a rate of 1.7% per year, between 2005 and 2030. Forecasts predict a gradual decoupling of freight transportation activity from GDP growth, a trend which is more accentuated in the long term.
The Baseline scenario* shows important increase in freight transport by trucks - also experienced in the recent past (from 58,4% to 72,7% between 1990 and 2005) - but expected to slow down in the future. Trucks are expected to slightly enhance their predominance in the modal split (from 72,7% to 75,4 over the 2005-2030 period) at the expense of rail (from 16% to 14%) and inland navigation (from 11,4% to 9.6%).


*The EEA's baseline scenario follows a conventional definition and expands on current expectations regarding macro-economic, sectoral, technological and societal developments, as well as including those policies that have been implemented and/or adopted, which typically refer to pieces of legislation such as EU directives (e.g. on urban waste water treatment and on landfills) or political agreements (e.g. mid-term review of the common agriculture policy).

Freight transport activity increase in comparison to GDP growth in EU 27, 1990-2030

Note: N/A

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

The Baseline scenario of transportation activity, which includes details about flows of transportation between and within the EU Member-States, shows a gradual decoupling of transportation activity from GDP growth. This trend, which is more accentuated in the long term, is a combined result of productivity gains in transportation and certain saturation effects. The volume of freight transport is projected to increase at a rate of 1.7% per year, between 2005 and 2030. In comparison to past trends, the scenario includes a slowdown in the rate of increase of activity.
Transportation of goods is closely associated with economic activity and the completion of the Internal Market, as increasing specialization induces larger flows of goods. Historically, transportation of goods has grown at least as fast as GDP. However, the Baseline scenario conditions with a changing structure of the EU economy towards services combined with productivity gains in transportation bring about a gradual decoupling of freight transport from GDP growth.
The projection shows freight activity per unit of GDP declining from 0.225 tonne-km per Euro'05 of GDP in 2005 to 0.199 tonne-km per Euro'05 of GDP.

Specific policy question: Is the share of goods transported by road being reduced relative to other transport modes?

Specific assessment

Road transport (see Figure 2) is also dominating freight transport activity and this is projected to continue in the Baseline scenario. Transport of goods by trucks seems to offer a significant degree of flexibility which compensates for the higher cost of road transport as compared with rail. The share of rail freight transport is projected to rise only in the long term, as a result of improvement of infrastructure. While the share of road transportation of passengers is projected to decline, road freight transport activity (+1.8% pa in 2005-2030) is projected to increase and attain a share in total freight transport of 75.4% by 2030, 2.8 percentage points up from 2005 levels. This increase occurs to the detriment of both rail and inland navigation activity, which are projected to grow by +1.4% per year and +1.0% per year respectively in the period 2005-2030. By 2030 rail freight is projected to account for 15% of total activity (16% in 2005) and inland navigation for 9.6% of total activity (11.4% in 2005).

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Anita Pirc Velkavrh


EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)


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