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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Freight transport demand / Freight transport demand (CSI 036/TERM 013) - Assessment published Dec 2013

Freight transport demand (CSI 036/TERM 013) - Assessment published Dec 2013

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 11 Nov 2013 Published 12 Dec 2013 Last modified 12 Dec 2014, 02:07 PM
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This content has been archived on 12 Dec 2014, reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/indicators/freight-transport-demand-version-2/assessment-4 was published)

Generic metadata


Transport Transport (Primary topic)

freight transport
DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 036
  • TERM 013
Temporal coverage:
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

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

Key messages

Between 2010 and 2011, freight transport volumes in the EU-28 (excl. Croatia) remained unchanged, approximately 8 % below the peak volumes experienced in 2007. However, the modal share changed slightly in favour of rail transport, the only mode to experience an increase in tkm between 2010 and 2011.  Still, road transport dominates land freight transport at 76 %, followed by rail (18 %) and inland waterways (6 %). Fuel consumption data for 2012 suggests that overall freight transport volumes experienced another dip, falling back approximately to 2009 levels.

In the EU-13, land freight transport grew by 72 % between 2001 and 2011, with tkm more than doubling in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia between 2001 and 2011. In contrast, demand in the EU-15 was 2 % lower in 2011 than in 2001. Remarkably, land tkm per capita is now slightly greater in Poland than in Germany and tkm per capita for the EU-13 is greater than for the EU-15.

Land freight transport growth in the non-EU EEA Member States has been higher than the EU-28 average at 33 % compared to 11 % (2001-2011). In terms of modal split, Norway’s rail share is around the EU-28 average, while Turkey’s is significantly lower at around 5 %. However, rail freight in Turkey has increased considerably, by 51 % between 2001 and 2011. In Iceland, all freight transport is by road. By contrast, in Switzerland 54 % is by road compared to 46 % by rail.

Freight transport volume and modal split within the EU

Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Freight transport volumes and GDP

EEA-33 excluding Croatia and Liechtenstein
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Key assessment

Freight transport demand by road, rail, ship and air within the EU-28 showed an upward trend throughout the 1990s and early 2000s up to the onset of the recession, growing by 20 % between 2000 and 2007. Between 2007 and 2009, freight volumes fell back to levels previously seen in mid-2003. Between 2009 and 2011, they grew again, yet total tkm in 2011 were still around 8 % lower than in 2007. The estimate for 2012, based on fuel consumption data and latest road and rail data as a proxy, suggests that freight transport demand may have fallen again in 2012. Growth in land freight transport demand (road, rail and inland waterways) in each of the four non-EU EEA Member States was above 20 %, significantly exceeding the EU-28 average of 12 %.

Road haulage accounted for 76 % of total freight movements by road, rail and inland waterways within the EU-28 in 2011. Total road freight volumes in 2011 were below their pre-recession peak in 2007 but still 15 % higher than in 2000. Road freight demand varies across different EU Member States. Road freight transportation fell by around 2.3 % in the EU-15 but grew by around 2.1 % in the EU-13 between 2010 and 2011. For the EU-15, road freight demand differs widely depending on the Member State. For example, a 30 % decline was recorded in Greece between 2010 and 2011, while volumes in Germany grew by 3.4 %.

In the EU-13, Bulgaria (9 %), Latvia (15 %) and Lithuania (11 %) show particularly high growth rates. In 2010 Poland replaced Spain as the country with the second largest road freight volumes after Germany.

In the non-EU EEA Member States the shares of road and rail transport freight transport demand are varied; inland waterways do not play any role. Switzerland has high rail share (46 %) while in Iceland all freight transport is by road. Rail shares in Turkey and Norway are 5 % and 16 %, respectively.

Rail freight volumes in the EU-28 remained fairly stable during the 1990s but grew roughly in line with overall freight volumes between 2002 and 2007. Most of this growth occurred in the EU-15, which saw a 19 % increase. All EEA member countries experienced steep declines during the economic recession; in 2009, overall rail freight volumes were almost 20 % lower than during the peak in 2007. Between 2009 and 2011, volumes recovered. In 2011, rail freight volumes were only 6 % lower than in 2007. In fact, rail is the only mode that has experienced an increase in tkm between 2010 and 2011.

Maritime freight transport makes up 38 % of the total freight transport demand in EU-28 countries (excl. Croatia; DG MOVE, 2013). The modal share has remained fairly stable at that level since 1995, meaning that growth in demand for maritime transport has been broadly in line with overall freight transport growth rates. Maritime transport peaked in 2007, but declined in the following two years due to the recession. Volumes increased again in 2010 and remained broadly unchanged in 2011 at around 8 % below the 2007 peak.


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

Freight modal split between road and rail

Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Specific assessment

Two decades ago, the share of rail freight transport in the EU-13 was very high, exceeding the road freight share. However, the rail freight share of the road/rail total has been in decline since the 1990s falling to 24 % in 2009.   

In 2010-2011, there appears to have been a slight recovery with the EU-13 rail freight share up to 26 %. The rail freight share in the EU-13 thus still remains significantly higher than in the EU-15 where it increased from 15 % to 17 % between 2009 and 2011. Over the longer term, the share of rail freight has remained fairly stable in the EU-15.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello


EEA Management Plan

2013 2.9.2 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)
Filed under:


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