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Passenger transport demand in the EU-28 decreased by nearly 1.5 % between 2011 and 2012, following a slight downward trend since its peak in 2009, broken only by a 1 % increase in 2011. Car passenger travel remains the dominant mode, with a share well above 70 %. Air transport grew by 10 % in 2011, but stabilised in 2012. However, it retained its pre-crisis modal share (9 %). Rail passengers’ share has grown slightly in recent years, and accounted for 7 % in 2012, after the slight increase in the last two years (2011 and 2012).
Land passenger transport demand in non-EU-28 countries kept growing overall in 2012, with a 1.7 % growth in Iceland, and 1.5 % in Switzerland. Norwegian land transport demand figures remain stable, with car and rail demand growth (1.3 % and 3.6 % respectively) offsetting a 20.2 % loss in rail. The quick deterioration of rail passenger transport in Turkey (-22 % in 2012) was accompanied by a significant increase (6.2 % in 2012) in total land transport demand, sustained by a 10.5 % growth in car travel. It is worth noting that, according to Eurocontrol (Eurocontrol, 2014), Turkey is also the main driver of air passenger traffic growth in the European skies.
Freight transport volumes in the EU‑28 decreased by 2 % between 2011 and 2012, mainly due to a 3 % reduction in road freight transport (with Italy leading the road drop by 13.8 % compared to its 2011 figure). Rail transport also decreased by 4 % between 2011 and 2012, whereas IWW transport increased by 6 %. Maritime and air transport did not vary significantly. Overall, total freight transport volumes in the EU‑28 are now 10 % below the peak volumes experienced in 2007. The modal share remains constant; road transport dominates land freight transport at 75 %, followed by rail (18 %) and IWW (7 %).
Switzerland experienced a decrease of 4 % in road and rail transport, whereas Norway and Turkey’s overall land freight transport increased (by 4 % and 6 % respectively), and Iceland’s demand remained roughly constant between 2011 and 2012.
Road traffic is, by far, the major source of traffic noise in Europe both inside and outside agglomerations. It should be also highlighted that significant numbers of people remain exposed to high levels of noise from rail and aircraft.
In the largest European cities, over 250 thousand inhabitants, noise from road transport is a major concern, as in 2007 almost 67 million people were exposed to long-term average road traffic noise levels exceeding 55dB L den (weighted average day, evening, night). At night time, for the same reported cities, more than 45 million people were exposed to road noise levels higher than 50dB. Concerning noise from major roads outside agglomerations, 33 million were affected during daytime and 23 million at night periods.
When available data allows for comparison between 2007 and 2012, different patterns have been observed: there has been a general increase of people exposed to all noise bands from airports, a slight increase of people exposed to noise from roads (only people exposed to lower noise bands), and a slight decrease of people exposed to noise from railways. Nevertheless, for 2012 reference year, information on strategic noise maps is missing for 12 out of 33 EEA member countries.
The latest year’s available data show a continuation of the general trend for decreases in air pollutant emissions from transport: all transport-derived pollutants decreased between 2011 and 2012 (by 6 % in the case of NO x , 7 % for SO x , and by 6 % and 7 % in the case of PM 10 and PM 2.5 , respectively). The latest data show that non-exhaust emissions are 46 % of the exhaust emissions of primary PM 10 in 2012, and 31 % of the exhaust emissions of primary PM 2.5 .
Aviation is the only subsector where emissions have increased in the last year available, by 7 % for NH 3 and by 9 % for SO x emissions. Aviation and shipping are the two sectors where increases in activity since 1990 have offset reductions elsewhere, in particular for SO x but also for NO x and PM. Road transport and aviation have also increased NH 3 emissions significantly over the last two decades, but while road transport has recently reduced its emissions, aviation has not yet been able to do so.
In general terms, the transport sector achieved important reductions in the period 1990 through 2012: reductions in CO and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) (both 81 %), but also in NO x (33 %), SO x (26 %) and particulates (by 23 % in the case of PM 2.5 and by 18 % for PM 10 ).
The latest EEA preliminary estimations shows that transport emissions fell by 3.3 % in 2012, following the reduction trend seen from 2008. In 2012, transport (including shipping and aviation) contributed 24.3 % of the total of GHG emissions in the EU-28. Transport emissions (including aviation) in 2012 were 20.5 % above 1990 levels, despite a decline between 2008 and 2012. Emissions will, therefore, need to fall by 67 % by 2050 in order to meet the Transport White Paper target. International aviation experienced the largest percentage increase in GHG emissions from 1990 levels (+ 93 %), followed by international shipping (+ 32 %).
Emissions from international shipping declined between 2008 and 2012. GHG emissions from international aviation also declined, by 1.3 %, in 2012.
Outside the EU-28, in the last year available (between 2011 and 2012), values were generally stable.
This indicator factsheet is based on data for the period 1990 to 2012. Between 1990 and 2007, annual transport energy consumption in the EEA member countries grew by 38%. However following this year, this trend reversed. Between 2007 and 2012, total energy demand in the EEA-33 transport sector declined by 10.6 %. This is shown in Figure 1 below. Total transport energy consumption for the EEA-33 has increased by 24.4% between 1990 and 2012. Latest estimates suggest that the downward trend in transport energy consumption has continued through 2013, with a further 1% drop in energy consumption.
The shipping sector saw the greatest decline in energy consumption during the recession; bunkers dropped by 10% between 2008 and 2009 alone, with a total decrease of 15% between 2007 and 2012. Energy use for road, aviation and rail transport fell by around 9% over the 2007 to 2012 time period.
Road transport accounts for the largest amount of energy consumption, accounting for 73% of total demand in 2012. Despite a decrease in energy consumption since the recession, total road transport energy consumption in 2012 was still almost 22% higher in the EEA-33 than in 1990. The fraction of road transport fuel that is diesel has continued to increase and in 2012 it amounted to 70%.
Since 1980 the real price of transport fuel (all transport fuels, expressed as the equivalent consumption in unleaded petrol, corrected for inflation to 2005 prices) has fluctuated between EUR 0.75 and 1.25 per litre, with an average of EUR 0.96. Real prices per litre peaked in July 2008 at around EUR 1.25, but then fell by around a third later that year, largely due to a significant drop in the price of crude oil. Another peak occurred in April 2012 when fuel prices reached EUR 1.24. Since then fuel prices have fallen again. The average real price in May 2013 was EUR 1.14 – still significantly above the long term average of EUR 0.96. The price of fuel is an important determinant of the demand for transport and the efficiency with which fuel is used. However, despite rising real prices over the last two decades transport demand increased.
All EU Member States are to achieve a 10 % share in renewable energy by 2020 for all transport options. Individual Member States progress towards this target varies. As a reference, the average share of renewable energy across the EU‑28 consumed in transport between 2010 and 2011 increased from 3.5 % to 3.8 %. These figures include only those biofuels which met the sustainability criteria.
In 2011 EUROSTAT has for the first time published the share of biofuels in transport energy use which meet the sustainability criteria of the Renewables Directive (Art. 17 & Art. 18, 2009/28/EC). The data shows that in 2011 3.8% of the energy consumed in transport was renewable, most of it from biofuels meeting the sustainability criteria. Most Member States require significant further increases in order to reach the Directive’s target for a 10% share of renewable energy in transport by 2020.
In 2011, the unweighted average EU-27 sulphur content was 5.7 ppm for petrol, and 7.0 ppm for diesel. An EU specification came into force on 1 January 2009, which limits the sulphur content of all automotive road fuels to a maximum of 10 ppm. Reductions in the sulphur content of fuels are expected to have a large impact on exhaust emissions as they will enable the introduction of more sophisticated after-treatment systems.
Estimates based on the share of vehicles complying with the various legislation classes suggest that despite the strict emission limits imposed for new vehicles in Europe, a considerable fraction of the vehicle fleet is still of conventional (pre-Euro) technology.
The period of time needed for a new technology to penetrate the vehicle fleet in the EEA is quicker for diesel than for petrol cars.
The proportion of trucks, buses and coaches that comply with the latest and most stringent emission standards is lower than for cars, because of their longer lifetimes. On the other hand, the penetration of new technology is highest for two-wheelers.
Based on the activity level of the latest technologies, which is generally higher compared to the activity level of older vehicles, the emissions reductions achieved by the entire fleet are higher than the technology share may suggest.
Specific CO 2 emissions of road transport have decreased since 1995, mainly due to an improvement in the fuel efficiency of passenger car transport. Recent EU Regulation setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars is expected to further reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles in view of the 130 g/km and 95 g/km emission targets set for 2015 and 2020 respectively.
Specific CO 2 emissions of air transport, although decreasing, are of the same order of magnitude as for road, while rail and maritime shipping remain the most energy efficient modes of passenger transport.
Specific energy efficiency of light and heavy duty trucks has improved, but road transport still consumes significantly more energy per t-km than rail or ship freight transport. CO 2 emissions from light commercial vehicles are also expected to decrease in view of the 175 g/km and 147 g/km emission targets set for 2017 and 2020 respectively.
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.
The data analysed from selected stations in major urban agglomerations indicate that during the period 1999-2008 mean values of NO 2 concentrations at road traffic stations remain relatively stable (trend is smaller than the statistical uncertainty on estimate). An increase is observed after 2003 in the maximum observed concentrations and although a slight reduction is observed in 2007, a further increase is noted in 2008. The background concentrations remain relatively stable throughout the period 1999-2008. For PM10, a slight increase was observed in 2003 in the maximum background concentrations, but these have followed a downward trend since. The trend in the maximum PM10 concentration at traffic stations varies during the period 2002-2008, with a downward trend observed between 2002-2004, an increase in 2006 and a downward trend thereafter. Throughout the period 2002-2007 mean traffic and mean background concentrations remain relatively stable, with a slight downward trend observed in recent years.
The specific emissions of air pollutants from passenger and freight
transport decreased during the time period 1995-2009 for the majority of
transport modes and especially for passenger transport. The highest reduction
of specific emissions can be observed in the road sector, following the implementation
of increasingly strict emission standards. Railway and aviation have also
recorded reductions, while maritime passenger and freight transport emissions
remained approximately constant over the same time period. Rail and water
transport are still relatively clean forms of transport - compared to road and
air transport - but without any regulations on their emissions, these modes might
lose this leading position.
level of car ownership is growing rapidly in the EEA-32 countries, especially in
countries with relatively low car ownership levels, like the new EU Member
States (EU-12). Increasing private vehicle ownership has proven to lead to
increased usage of private vehicles and might have the opposite effect on
public transport usage in the future. The number of buses-coaches per capita
has increased slightly in the period 1995 to 2009. The
number of trucks per unit of GDP (truck intensity) has remained constant over
the same period and is generally higher in the new EU Member States (EU-12)
than in the older ones (EU-15).
On average over the period 1998 to 2009, passenger transport prices have increased at a higher rate than consumer prices. However, in 1998, 2001 and now again in 2009, the relative volatility of the transport market has been highlighted, as overall transport prices fell at a faster rate than consumer prices. This is primarily due to significant drop in the average crude oil price between 2008 and 2009, which led to reductions in fuel prices. In particular, 2009 saw a decline in prices for air passenger transport and the operation of personal transport equipment, both of which increased in the previous year. In addition, the purchase price of motor cars continued the downward trend that has been consistent over the past decade. For freight transport prices, no EU-wide data exists, but as an example UK road freight prices have increased by a small amount over this period; transport of goods into the UK by sea have continually declined as economies of scale continue to take effect (larger ships travelling longer distances).
The average age of road vehicles has recorded small changes during the period from 1995 to 2009. The
average age of passenger cars, two-wheelers, buses and coaches slightly
decreased, while the average age of light and heavy-duty vehicles increased. The
registration of new vehicles has increased over the same period, suggesting
that the penetration rate of modern technologies is accelerating.
For countries where data is available (Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK), load factors have generally declined for road freight transport (Figure 1). Load factors are generally under 50 % (by weight). However some freight transport companies achieve much higher load factors than others in the same sector. This suggests that load factors can be improved. Road freight empty running (Figure 2) shows increases and decreases across different countries, although it is important to note that the response rate for the two variables is different (fewer and/or different countries have reported empty running). If load factors were increased, freight traffic volumes could be considerably reduced. Rail freight load factors (Figure 3) have remained fairly constant across the last few years, with only small increases and decreases observed for individual countries. There is limited data available for shipping freight, and this shows increasing load factors for the Czech Republic and Lithuania, and slight decreases for Hungary and Poland (Figure 4).
During the last decade, the total length of Europe's motorway network, High Speed Rail (HSR) network, inland waterways and pipelines have increased. However, the total length of the conventional rail network has decreased. While infrastructure length is only a proxy measure for capacity, the steady increase in the length of the motorway infrastructure between 1990 and 2008 suggests that road capacity has expanded to the detriment of conventional rail. The data may not show the full extent of the divergence as motorway length may have increased even more than noted since additional lanes are not counted in the statistics (see the Definitions Section) and the rail network may have decreased further through reducing double track to single or reducing signalling spacing, which statistics do not show. The data shows that the negative effect is bigger for the new Member States (EU-12) than for the EU-15 countries. For example, the length of rail infrastructure, fell much more in the EU-12 than in the EU-15 during this time period. Increasing infrastructure capacity is not always necessary. Optimization of the capacity of the existing infrastructure through interconnectivity, interoperability, intermodality and road pricing still has lots of potential throughout Europe. The application of these principles might be more beneficial to society and definitely to the environment than the construction of new infrastructure when capacity and congestion problems arise.
The objective of the indicator is to monitor the efficiency of passenger transport through vehicle occupancy rates. Although comparative data are only available for five years (2004 - 2008), the data suggest that passenger car occupancy rate is generally stabilising in Western Europe (UK, DK, NL, NO, AT, ES, IT) but is declining, from a higher baseline, in the Eastern European countries (CZ, SK, HU). This would be expected given that car ownership levels are growing more rapidly in Eastern Europe (see Figure 1). Rail and bus occupancy rate data is scarce and trends available for some countries might be representative only of certain regions (Figure 2 and Figure 3).
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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