Investment in transport infrastructure

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-176-en
Also known as: TERM 019
Created 16 Nov 2010 Published 18 Jan 2011 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 07:00 PM
Note: new version is available!
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Spending on transport infrastructure has increased over the decade to 2008  for the 20 Member States included in the EEA-32 analysis, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of GDP. Road infrastructure continues to receive the majority of investment, and although other modes of transport (rail, sea and air) have increased their share of investment overall in the last decade, the most recent five years have seen a return to increasing proportions of investment in road infrastructure. The EU-12 Member States have seen proportionally much greater rises in the level of transport investment than the EU-15 Member States in all modes except sea transport infrastructure. Overall investment in transport infrastructure grew by almost 3% in 2007-2008 for the EEA-32 Member States included in the analysis, despite a general economic recession and reduction in transport activity in that year.

Key messages

Spending on transport infrastructure has increased over the decade to 2008  for the 20 Member States included in the EEA-32 analysis, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of GDP. Road infrastructure continues to receive the majority of investment, and although other modes of transport (rail, sea and air) have increased their share of investment overall in the last decade, the most recent five years have seen a return to increasing proportions of investment in road infrastructure. The EU-12 Member States have seen proportionally much greater rises in the level of transport investment than the EU-15 Member States in all modes except sea transport infrastructure. Overall investment in transport infrastructure grew by almost 3% in 2007-2008 for the EEA-32 Member States included in the analysis, despite a general economic recession and reduction in transport activity in that year.

Is investment in environmentally friendly transport systems being prioritised?

Investment in transport infrastructure (million Euro) in EEA member countries

Note: Investment in Infrastructure in EEA member countries, in term of million euro. Only those countries (20 in total) for which complete datasets were available for road, rail, inland waterways, sea and air have been included. They are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Data was not available for Italy in 2008, so 2007 data was used as a proxy.

Data source:

OECD/ITF, Infrastructure investments in million EUR , http://www.internationaltransportforum.org/statistics/investment/data.htm. date of extraction: 13 September 2010

Eurostat,  B1GM Gross domestic product at market prices, Table NAMA_GDP_C =  GDP and main components - Current prices, available from the website of Eurostat via following path.

 

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For the 20 Member States included in the EEA32 analysis, the annual investment in transport infrastructure in absolute terms has risen steadily from around €67 bn in 1995 to more than €120 bn in 2008. This equates to a rise from around 0.9% of GDP to approximately 1.2% of GDP in the same period (a third increase). Road infrastructure has accounted for by far the largest expenditure in every year, though its share is smaller than a decade ago (from 62% to 58% in the decade to 2008). The share of investment in rail has increased slightly (28-30%) in the last 10 years, as have the shares of investment in sea (3-4%) and air (6-7%) infrastructure. However, looking over the last 5 years this trend reverses: the share of road infrastructure has increased between 2003 and 2008 (52%-58%), whilst the share of investment in all other modes has dropped.  Inland waterways continue to attract the lowest share of infrastructure investment; its share has shrunk by nearly a third over 10 years to just over 1% in 2008. The 10-year increase in the share of investment directed towards rail and sea infrastructure could be seen as a positive shift towards more environmentally friendly modes of transport. However, in the case of sea infrastructure it could equally be argued that the investment has enabled an overall increase in freight movement, rather than shifting freight away from less environmentally friendly modes. Additionally, the more recent trend for road transport to take an increasing proportion of infrastructure investment could be seen as regressive from an environmental perspective.

In the European Union, there is a marked difference in investment trends between the EU-12 and EU-15. Although overall investment in transport infrastructure in the EU-12 is around one tenth that of the EU-15, growth in investment over the last decade is far higher – around 400% growth in the EU-12 compared to just over 50% in the EU-15. There are two likely contributing factors to this large rise: firstly, the increase may reflect efforts to compensate for earlier underinvestment in transport infrastructure, and is compounded by the increased demand for transport in growing economies. Secondly, accession to the European Union, and resulting financial aid, can act to facilitate investment. Expenditure on road and air infrastructure in the EU-12 both grew by a factor of 6 and 5 respectively, whilst investments in rail and inland waterways grew by a factor of 3. Investment in sea transport infrastructure grew comparatively little (90% in the decade to 2008), but this is likely a product of the EU-12’s geography: many Member States are landlocked, and those that have coastlines are not well positioned for international shipping. In contrast, shipping infrastructure investment in the EU-15 has seen the greatest 10-year increase of any mode (130% to 2008), and is the only area where growth in spending in the EU-15 has been greater than the EU-12. In particular, Italy reported a huge increase in expenditure between 2000 and 2005, and in 2004 accounted for almost half of all shipping infrastructure investment in the EU-27. It is interesting to note that, although over the ten years to 2008 investment in rail infrastructure in the EU-15 has risen by nearly 80%, virtually all of this increase occurred in the first five years, with very little growth (0.7%) in investment since 2003.

Transport infrastructure investment grew by around 3% in 2007-2008 across the EEA-32 Member States included in the analysis. This is in contrast to a decrease in transport activity - both passenger and freight - in the same period (see TERM12, passenger transport demand and TERM13, freight transport demand). As transport infrastructure investments are largely public-sector driven, they are less affected by economic recession in the short term. However, it is possible that the resulting pressure on government spending will impact on infrastructure investments in future years.

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

Percentage of GDP used for transport infrastructure investment by mode (EEA32)

Note: Trends of transport infrastructure investments in relation to GDP between 1995 and 2008. Only those countries (20 in total) for which complete datasets were available for road, rail, inland waterways, sea and air have been included in Figure 1. They are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Data was not available for Italy in 2008, so 2007 data was used as a proxy.

Data source:

OECD/ITF, Infrastructure investments in million EUR , http://www.internationaltransportforum.org/statistics/investment/data.htm. date of extraction: 13 September 2010

Eurostat,  B1GM Gross domestic product at market prices, Table NAMA_GDP_C =  GDP and main components - Current prices, available from the website of Eurostat via following path or direct link. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page?_pageid=0,1136173,0_45570701&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

 

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The proportion of GDP invested in transport infrastructure for the EEA-32 Member States (for which data were available) has risen steadily over the decade to 2008, when it accounted for just over 1.2% of GDP. The first five years’ (1998-2003) growth in investment has been driven mainly by an increase in spend on rail infrastructure (from 0.25% to 0.38% of GDP) whilst the latter five years (2003-2008) have seen a rise in spend on road infrastructure (from 0.57% to 0.70% of GDP) driving the increase in overall investment. Investment in seaports and airports also grew strongly over the 10-year period (but from much lower starting levels), however in the last five years the share of GDP spend on seaports has declined slightly, and increase in share of spend on airports has slowed. 

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

The term “transport infrastructure” refers only to infrastructure that is 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 in infrastructure covers expenditure on new construction, and the extension of existing infrastructure, including reconstruction, renewal and major repairs to infrastructure.

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

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

For inland waterways, expenditure on locks is included.

Units

Expenditure is measured in millions of 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 investment is also seen as important in reducing disparities between regions.

During past decades, transport investment policies focused on extending infrastructure capacity, particularly roads, as a response to increasing traffic demand. However, there is strong evidence that new transport infrastructure, again particularly roads, generates new demand for travel, and often serves simply to shift congestion problems from one place or point in time to another.

As of January 2014, the European Union has a new transport infrastructure policy that connects the continent between East and West, and North and South. This policy aims to close the gaps between Member States' transport networks, remove bottlenecks that still hamper the smooth functioning of the internal market and overcome technical barriers such as incompatible standards for railway traffic. It promotes and strengthens seamless transport chains for passengers and freight.

As an EU policy, the trans-European networks (TENs) – in transport, energy and telecommunication – have existed since 1993. The new TEN-T (transport) guidelines (Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013) clearly state the essence of the policy:

The planning, development and operation of trans-European transport networks contributes to the attainment of major EU objectives — as set out in, inter alia, the Europe 2020 Strategy and the Commission White Paper entitled "Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system" ("the White Paper") — such as the smooth functioning of the internal market and the strengthening of economic, social and territorial cohesion. Their specific objectives also include allowing the seamless, safe and sustainable mobility of persons and goods, ensuring accessibility and connectivity for all regions of the EU, and contributing to further economic growth and competitiveness in a global perspective. These specific objectives should be achieved by establishing interconnections and interoperability between national transport networks in a resource-efficient and sustainable way. For example, rail interoperability could be enhanced by innovative solutions aimed at improving compatibility between systems, such as on-board equipment and multi-gauge rail tracks.

Growth in traffic has resulted in increased congestion in international transport. In order to ensure the international mobility of passengers and goods, the capacity of the TEN-T and the use of that capacity should be optimised and, where necessary expanded. This should be done by removing infrastructure bottlenecks and bridging missing infrastructure links within and between Member States and, as appropriate, neighbouring countries, and taking into account ongoing negotiations with candidate and potential candidate countries.

As stated in the White Paper, the efficiency and effectiveness of transport can be significantly enhanced by ensuring a better modal integration across the network, in terms of infrastructure, information flows and procedures.

Targets

There are general targets for investments enabling a modal shift to more environmentally friendly transport modes such as rail, waterways and sea transport. Targets also exist for investments enabling an integrated TEN-T.

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 multi-modal 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 travel by rail.
  • A fully functional and EU-wide multi-modal TEN-T ‘core network’ by 2030, with a high quality, high 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 systems.

According to the latest TEN-T guidelines, EU transport policy objectives should be achieved by establishing interconnections and interoperability between national transport networks in a resource-efficient and sustainable way.

Related policy documents

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Data are collected by the OECD's International Transport Forum on an annual basis. There is a two year delay in data availability. The data collected includes information on absolute infrastructure investment (million EUR) per EEA-33 member country for rail, road, inland waterways, maritime ports and airports. Unfortunately, there are gaps in the data and therefore gap filling has been undertaken where required. 

Methodology for gap filling

As described above, gap filling has been employed to ensure data completeness. In all cases, data from the latest year available are used as a proxy and assumed to be the same in all consecutive missing years. 

Methodology references

  • Transport infrastructure investment and maintenance spending The International Transport Forum (ITF) collects annual data on investment and maintenance spending on transport infrastructures from all its Member countries. Data are collected from transport ministries, statistical offices and other institutions designated as an official data source.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

It is important to note that data coverage varies significantly from one country to another. This is mainly due to the lack of more detailed common definitions and the difficulty countries face in changing their data collection systems.

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

Data sets uncertainty

Data cover a broad spectrum and, therefore, general trends can be obtained. However, the accuracy and robustness of the data on a country level is questionable. This is because there are often differences in the methodology for collecting information at 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

n.a.

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Transport Transport (Primary topic)

Tags:
gdp | infrastructures | transport indicators | transport
DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • TERM 019
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1995-2008
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Diana Vedlugaite

EEA Management Plan

2010 2.9.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 3 years
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100