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Transport infrastructure investments

Indicator Assessment Created 07 May 2010 Published 03 Sep 2010 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
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Indicator codes: TERM 019

Key messages

  • Spending on road infrastructure projects has increased during the period 1992 to 2007 in absolute terms and this sector continues to receive the majority of transport investment. However, other modes of transport (road, rail, inland waterways, sea and air) have also seen an increase in funding during this period.
  • Investment in transport infrastructure in relation to GDP has increased over the 1992 to 2007 period.
  • The EU-12 Member States have seen proportionately greater rises in levels of transport investment than the EU-15 Member States.

Is investment priority to environmentally friendly transport systems being given?

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 (16 in total) for which complete datasets were available for road, rail, inland waterways, sea and air have been included in the figure. They are: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

Data source:

OECD/ITF, Infrastructure investments in million EUR , date of extraction: 17 Apr 09

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:,1136173,0_45570701&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL


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Key assessmentFor the 16 Countries included in the EEA-32 analysis, the investment in transport infrastructure in absolute terms has risen steadily from approximately 59 billion of euro to more than 87 billion of euro between 1992 and 2007.
During this period, road infrastructure accounted for the largest yearly expenditure; however, in terms of the proportion of total transport infrastructure spend, road transport's share has declined from 65% to 56%. Meanwhile, rail infrastructure's share of overall investment has increased slightly (26 - 30%), as has airport investment (6 - 9%) and seaport investment (2 - 4 %). Investment in inland waterways has remained fairly steady at around 1.2 - 1.6% of total transport expenditure. Therefore there has been a small shift in percentage terms in transport expenditure towards more environmentally friendly modes such as rail and sea over this period.
A comparison of trends shows that although expenditure in the EU-12 was low in the 1990s, recent increases in investment in percentage terms are far higher than in the EU-15. For example, investment in road, rail, seaports and airports increased by factors of 7, 10, 8 and 3 respectively in the EU-12 for the period 1992 to 2007, with the greatest increases being seen in the latter years.

What is the GDP share of infrastructure investment by mode in 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 2007

Data source:

OECD/ITF, Infrastructure investments in million EUR , date of extraction: 17 Apr 09

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.,1136173,0_45570701&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL


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An analysis of trends shows that infrastructure investments in relation to GDP have increased from around 0.94% to 1.08% between 1995 and 2007.
Road investments fluctuated around 0.6% of GDP, with investment in rail increasing from 0.25 to 0.32% of GDP, seaports increasing from 0.03 - 0.04% and airports increasing from 0.06-1%. Investment in inland waterways was around 0.01 % of GDP in all years analysed.


Indicator specification and metadata

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 past decades focused on extending infrastructure capacity, particularly roads, as a response to increasing traffic demand. However, 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.

As of January 2014, the European Union has a new transport infrastructure policy that connects the continent between East and West, 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 passenger and freight.

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

The planning, development and operation of trans-European transport networks contribute to the attainment of major Union 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 Union, and contributing to further economic growth and competitiveness in a global perspective. Those 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 trans-European transport network and the use of that capacity should be optimised and, where necessary, expanded by removing infrastructure bottlenecks and bridging missing infrastructure links within and between Member States and, as appropriate, neighbouring countries, and taking into account the 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.


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.

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.

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 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-33 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. 

Methodology references

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


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

Data cover 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


Data sources

Generic metadata


Transport Transport (Primary topic)

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
Temporal coverage:
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Diana Vedlugaite

EEA Management Plan

2009 2.10.2 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

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