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Transport infrastructure investments

Indicator Specification Created 21 Aug 2007 Published 03 Sep 2010 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
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Indicator codes: TERM 019


Justification for indicator selection

Infrastructure development is important to enhance market integration, improve trade and foster development in order to strengthen regional cohesion inEurope. In order to increase the capacity of transport infrastructure, the European Commission has set itself the objective of offering users high-quality and safe infrastructure that includes all transport modes and to allow for optimal use of existing capacities by either creating new or upgrading existing infrastructure (White Paper and TEN-T revision objective).


The original priority of TEN-T (Trans – European Transport Network) was the elimination of bottlenecks, in particular in the frontier regions of the accession countries and the development of infrastructure projects crossing through natural barriers. The Gothenburg European Council in 2001 invited the Community institutions to adopt revised guidelines for the TEN-T, with a view to giving priority, where appropriate, to infrastructure investment for railways, inland waterways, short sea shipping, intermodal operations and effective interconnections (European Commission, 2004).


The Community Decision No. 884/2004/EC of 29 April 2004 amending the Community guidelines for the development of the TEN-T identified a set of thirty priority projects. Of these 18 are railway projects, 3 are mixed road/rail projects, 2 are inland waterway projects and 1 a sea project. The choice reflects a shift towards supporting more environmentally friendly transport modes


Based on the Green Paper issued in February 2009 and the subsequent consultation process ( “Consultation on the future trans-European transport network policy” COM(2010)212), the Commission aims to develop a dual layer TEN-T, with a core network of the strategically most important nodes and links overlaying the relatively dense comprehensive network. At the time of writing (August 2011), the policy revision process is still ongoing.

Scientific references

Indicator definition

The term “transport infrastructure” refers only to infrastructures that are open to the general public. It covers buildings and other constructions as well as machinery and equipment, but it excludes vehicles and rolling stock.


Investment expenditure on infrastructure covers expenditure on new construction and extension of existing infrastructure, including reconstruction, renewal and major repairs of infrastructure.


For rail, infrastructure includes land, permanent way constructions, buildings, bridges and tunnels, as well as immovable fixtures, fittings and installations connected with them (signalisation, telecommunications, catenaries, electricity sub-stations, etc.) as opposed to rolling stock.


For road, maintenance includes surface maintenance, patching and running repairs (work relating to roughness of carriageway’s wearing course, roadsides, etc.).


For Inland waterways expenditures on locks are included.


Million Euros

Policy context and targets

Context description

Traditionally, EU transport policy has been concerned with providing transport infrastructure and services to support the development of the internal market and ensure the proper functioning of the Community’s transport systems. Transport infrastructure investments are also seen as important in reducing disparities between regions.


Transport investment policies during recent decades have focused on extending infrastructure capacity, particularly roads, as a response to increasing traffic demand. However, the assumption that investment should keep pace with traffic growth has been questioned in the light of the increasing greenhouse gas emissions and congestion hindering the economies. There is strong evidence that new transport infrastructure (particularly road) generates new demand for travel, and often serves simply to shift congestion problems from one place or point in time to another (ECMT, 1997).


In response to the Green Paper on the future TEN-T policy published by the Commission (European Commission, 2009) the European Parliament called on the Commission and Member States to integrate green corridors, rail freight networks, European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) corridors, maritime “highways”, inland waterways, dry ports, logistics platforms and urban mobility nodes, in favour of more environmentally friendly, less oil consuming and safer modes. This would ensure an optimal use of all modes of transport and promote the compatibility of connections between the various modes of transport and provide a consistency between the current and future TEN-T framework.


The TEN-T priority projects of 2004 have been subjected to a common socio-economic evaluation and chosen for their high relevance to trans-national traffic flows, cohesion and sustainable development objectives. However, the Commission has questioned the methodological soundness of their selection, the potential for interconnection and extension (both geographically and modally), the approach to coherent capacity and quality standards, and the means of better stimulating their completion within the planned timeframe and has launched a new round of consultations, which will result in a revisited priority list or methodology.


‘Consultation on the Future Trans-European Transport networks’ was adopted on the 4th May 2010, and covers three of the planning options that were included in the Green Paper. The Commission aims to develop a duel layer TEN-T with a core network of the strategically most important nodes and links overlaying the relatively dense comprehensive network based on the Green Paper and Consultation process. Six expert groups were set up, which have provided recommendations on a strategic network planning methodology including the connections beyond the EU, and supplementary infrastructure measures to integrate other EU policy fields into TEN-T planning and on legal and financial aspects.


There are a number of objectives, within the context of the ‘Europe 2020’ Strategy, which will require balanced solutions, including internal market, global competitiveness, cohesion and environmental issues (in particular decarbonisation of transport). Multimodal land-based networks will be supplemented by maritime transport, ports and their hinterlands and airports. Planning forEurope’s networks will be based on the current methodology and the feedback from the public consultation. A Commission Staff Working Document was published in January 2011 that provided a summary of the outputs of this consultation and discussion of the policy planning and implementation issues. The Commission’s proposals for the new TEN-T Guidelines are currently expected in mid-late 2011. 


There are general targets for investments enabling modal shift to more environmentally friendly transport modes such as rail, waterways and sea transport, and also investments enabling an integrated trans-European Transport Network.


Most recently the European Commission published a Transport White Paper in March 2011 (European Commission, 2011), which includes a number of objectives and targets for transport. In particular there are a number of objectives aimed at ‘Optimising the performance of multimodal logistic chains, including by making greater use of more energy-efficient modes’, which will in most cases have a direct impact on transport infrastructure investment and capacity; these include:

  • 30 % of road freight over 300 km should shift to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030, and more than 50 % by 2050, facilitated by efficient and green freight corridors. To meet this goal will also require appropriate infrastructure to be developed.
  • By 2050, complete a European high-speed rail network. Triple the length of the existing high-speed rail network by 2030 and maintain a dense railway network in all Member States. By 2050 the majority of medium-distance passenger transport should go by rail.
  • A fully functional and EU-wide multimodal TEN-T ‘core network’ by 2030, with a high quality and capacity network by 2050 and a corresponding set of information services.
  • By 2050, connect all core network airports to the rail network, preferably high-speed; ensure that all core seaports are sufficiently connected to the rail freight and, where possible, inland waterway system.

Related policy documents

Key policy question

Are we giving investment priority to environmentally friendly transport systems?

Specific policy question

What is the GDP share of infrastructure investment by mode in EEA Member Countries?


Methodology for indicator calculation

Data are collected by the OECD/ITF on an annual basis. There is a two year delay in data availability. The data collected included information on absolute infrastructure investment (million EUR) per country for the EEA-32 for rail, road, inland waterways, maritime ports and airports. Unfortunately there were many data gaps and therefore the analysis has just been based on those Countries for which there was no more than 3 consecutive years of missing data, so that a more accurate picture of the trends in transport investment can be shown.

Methodology for gap filling

As described above, Countries have been deleted from the analysis where more than 3 years worth of consecutive data for any transport mode is missing. Where 3 years or less are missing, gap filling has been employed to ensure data completeness. In all cases, data from the latest year available is used as a proxy, and assumed to be the same in all consecutive missing years. This is in accordance with the methodology used for greenhouse gas inventories under the EU Monitoring Mechanism.

The largest proportion of gaps exists at the start (1992-1994) and end (2008) of the data set. Therefore, data for these years should be treated as less reliable than other years, when there is a much lower proportion of gap-filled data.

The most significant source of uncertainty is for Italy. Though it does not have the most gaps in its dataset, the combination of a relatively high number of gaps (there is no data for 1992-1994 or for 2008 in any mode) and Italy’s relatively significant contribution to the totals as one of the five largest economies in the EEA-32. For all modes, data for 1995 are used as a proxy for years 1992-1994, and data for 2007 are used as a proxy for 2008. 

Methodology references

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

It is important to draw the attention on the fact that the data coverage varies significantly from a country to another. This is mainly due to the lack of more detailed common definitions and the difficulty for countries to change their data collection system.

In addition, there exists no purchasing power parity corrected general index for transport infrastructure investment. This makes comparing investment between countries on a consistent basis very difficult.


Data sets uncertainty

Despite only data for 20 countries being used in the analysis, it covers a broad spectrum and therefore general trends can be obtained. The accuracy and robustness of the data on a country level however is questionable. This is because there are often differences in the methodology for collecting information at the country level and this will influence data quality. 

More comments on data set uncertainty due to gap filling can be found in the ‘Methodology for gap filling’ section.


Rationale uncertainty


Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Work description

Further work could be undertaken to improve the consistency in the investment data. At present there is inconsistency across countries about what is reported in the data. For example, different countries may be reporting what accounts for a road investment differently to another country. There is a need to define more precisely what is covered under investment in road, rail, inland waterways, sea ports and airports. The data could also be improved to increase the consistency in the inclusion of data from different funding sources. In particular, it could be improved to ensure that data is included from both public and private sector funds.   In addition, it is important to improve the amount of data that is available, thereby minimising data gaps. This would ensure that more accurate trends in transport investment are ascertained.    Data on investments in pipelines should be researched.

Resource needs

No resource needs have been specified


In progress


2015/12/31 00:00:00 GMT+1

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
TERM 019
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Transport Transport


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DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

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