Personal tools

Notifications
Get notifications on new reports and products. Frequency: 3-4 emails / month.
Subscriptions
Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
Twitter icon Twitter
Facebook icon Facebook
YouTube icon YouTube channel
RSS logo RSS Feeds
More

Write to us Write to us

For the public:


For media and journalists:

Contact EEA staff
Contact the web team
FAQ

Call us Call us

Reception:

Phone: (+45) 33 36 71 00
Fax: (+45) 33 36 71 99


next
previous
items

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

Capacity of transport infrastructure

Indicator 12: Capacity of infrastructure networks

 

  • In EU countries the length of the road network has continued to increase. By 1996 the total EU road network amounted to 3.5 million km. The fastest growth was in the motorway network – nearly doubling between 1970 and 1996 to 46 000 km.
  • At the same time the length of railway lines and inland waterways decreased by some 8 %.

Figure 4.2: Length of motorways and railways (EU 15)

Source: Eurostat

Objectives

  • Optimise use of existing infrastructure capacity.
  • Revitalise rail and inland waterways.

Definition
Proxy indicator for capacity: length of transport infrastructure by type (e.g. motorways, roads, railways and navigable inland waterways).

 

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 Commission’s 1996 White for revitalising the Community’s 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).

 

Findings

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

Source: Eurostat

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.

 

Future work

  • 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.
Data
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
Note: Figures for Ireland updated with data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office Data on pipelines refer to 1995


Geographical coverage

[+] Show Map

Document Actions

Comments

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