Capacity of transport infrastructure
Indicator 12: Capacity of infrastructure networks
Figure 4.2: Length of motorways and railways (EU 15)
Policy and targets
The TEN plans cover major road, rail (both conventional and High Speed Rail HSR), inland waterways, maritime ports, airports and combined networks. They include plans for some 27 000 km of motorways (of which around 54 % will be upgradings of existing roads and 46 % will be new roads), 10 000 km of new high-speed rail tracks, and 14 000 km of conventional rail to be upgraded to high-speed rail tracks. It also includes investments in intelligent transport systems (i.e. Global Navigation Satellite Systems and traffic management systems for different modes).
Additional initiatives to promote railways include the launch of freight freeways (CEC, 1997a) and the implementation of Directive 96/48/EC on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system. Steps are also being taken to implement the Commissions 1996 White for revitalising the Communitys railways (CEC, 1996b).
Following its Communication on intermodal freight transport (CEC, 1997b), the Commission has proposed new rules for combined transport (COM/98/414 final) and will develop proposals and actions to encourage intermodal transport.
Some Member States have set targets for transport infrastructure. The Netherlands aims to improve rail services by increasing the axle loads which can be carried (VENW, 1989). The cycling strategy of the United Kingdom is expected to result in doubled cycling rates by 2002, with a corresponding network improvement (DETR, 1996).
There has been a steady increase in the length of the road network. By 1996 the total length of EU road infrastructure amounted to about 3.5 million km. Between 1970 and 1996, the length of railway lines and inland waterways decreased by about 8 %.less only 7 % over 15 years from 1980.
The primary road network now includes about 46 300 km of motorways and 222 300 km of national roads. Between 1970 and 1996 motorway length increased by 4.4 % per year. In Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and the UK the length of other roads increased much
The TEN road network includes some 74 500 km of motorways and main inter-urban roads, of which 27 000 km are planned for completion by 2010. Although the TEN road network accounts for only one quarter of the EU primary network, its use is proportionally much higher. For example, in Germany and Denmark, it carries about one-third of road passenger traffic and in the UK, about half of freight transport (tonne-km).
The growth in road infrastructure varies between countries. In Belgium the total length of state, provincial and community roads increased by 15 % between 1980 and 1995 by gradual extensions of local and regional networks. In the same period the road network in Ireland diminished slightly (by about 1 %).
Road network densities in the Netherlands and Belgium are high, reflecting high population densities and mobility levels. Sweden and Spain have relatively low road network density, reflecting low population densities. Road length per head is highest in Ireland, Finland and Austria and lowest in Spain, Italy and the UK.
In 1996, the rail network length was about 166 000 km of which 48 % was electrified. Some 78 600 km of these form part of the TEN. Although the length of railways has been falling for several decades, it is difficult to estimate the effect on capacity. Minor lines have been closed, but the length of high-speed rail track increased by 150 % between 1990 and 1997. Today the HSR network has grown to more than 2 800 km of high capacity high-speed track.
The highest level of rail infrastructure per head is in Sweden where a high share of freight transport is by rail. Italy and Greece have low levels of rail infrastructure per head, and low levels of passenger and freight rail transport.
The inland waterways network is about 30 000 km long.
Figure 4.3: Length of high-speed railways in the EU
Box 4.1: The European Cycle Route Network
A European cycle route network is under development under an initiative of the European Cyclists Federation. It is designed to promote cycling by providing facilities for local work and recreational use, as well as for tourists.
Linking European cities will need new infrastructure, but much of the network will use existing national, regional and local routes. The first route is expected to open in the spring of 2000 with a new route added each year until 2011.
As well as providing cycle infrastructure, the EuroVelo project includes marketing, educational and attitudinal initiatives to change the current transport culture. It aims to help national and regional governments shift transport demand away from private car use.
Source: European Cyclists Federation.
- Further work is required at the EU level to develop reliable and comparable statistics on infrastructure by mode and type. In particular, definitions of road categories need to be harmonised as Member States have different administrative arrangements and classifications.
- Additional data on infrastructure and operation characteristics (e.g. number of lanes, number of tracks, frequency of trains, etc.) is needed to develop the current length indicator into a capacity supply indicator.
- Data also needs to be collected on public transport infrastructure and services, combined transport infrastructure and bicycle lanes.
The length of infrastructure per inhabitant (1996)
Unit: km/million inhabitants
|Motorways||National roads||State roads||Municipal roads||Total roads||Railways||Pipelines||Inland waterways|
|Austria||199||1 274||2 454||12 157||16 084||704||96||44|
|Belgium||165||1 241||131||12 654||14 190||333||29||151|
|Denmark||167||701||1 347||11 400||13 616||446||78||-|
|Finland||84||2 407||5 673||7 012||15 177||1 148||-||1 219|
|France||142||460||6 169||9 747||16 519||546||83||97|
|Germany||138||506||2 177||5 109||7 931||498||41||90|
|Greece||45||869||2 779||7 217||10 909||236||-||-|
|Ireland||22||1 501||3 223||21 679||26 425||776||-||-|
|Italy||112||780||1 975||2 474||5 341||279||74||26|
|Luxembourg||277||2 299||4 571||5 581||12 728||660||-||89|
|Netherlands||152||137||553||7 342||8 183||176||25||325|
|Portugal||72||910||4 646||6 297||11 923||287||-||-|
|Spain||186||449||1 794||1 709||4 138||313||94||-|
|Sweden||150||1 657||9 430||4 400||15 637||1 235||-||n.a.|
|United Kingdom||57||210||648||5 769||6 684||289||44||40|
|EU15||124||596||2 673||5 970||9 363||419||55||81|
Source: DG Transport, Eurostat
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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