Indicator Assessment

Investment in transport infrastructure

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-176-en
  Also known as: TERM 019
Published 03 Sep 2010 Last modified 11 May 2021
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  • 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.

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


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.

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


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.


Supporting information

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.


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.


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 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

No methodology references available.



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


Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • TERM 019
Frequency of updates
Updates are scheduled every 3 years
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage



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