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Are we moving in the right direction? Indicators on transport and environmental integration in the EU: TERM 2000

Transport demand and intensity

Group 2: Transport demand and intensity


Are we getting better at managing transport demand and at improving the modal split?


TERM indicators




8. Passenger transport

Reduce the link between economic growth and passenger transport demand


Increase shares of public transport, rail, walking, cycling


9. Freight transport

Reduce the link between economic growth and freight transport demand


Increase shares of rail, inland waterways, short-sea shipping


positive trend (moving towards objective)

some positive development (but insufficient to meet objective)

unfavourable trend (large distance from objective)

? quantitative data not available or insufficient

Group policy context

The dramatic growth in transport, particularly by road and air, and the resulting environmental and congestion problems, emphasise the need to focus policies on transport demand management and on promoting less environmentally damaging modes like walking, cycling, public transport, rail, inland waterways and sea transport. This requires combined action in various policy areas, such as spatial and transport planning (Group 3); transport infrastructure and services supply (Group 4); pricing (Group 5); organisation of transport operation services and freight logistics, training and education (Group 7).

The main elements of the current CTP are to improve and extend the trans-European transport network (TEN), establish a fairer and more efficient pricing system, revitalise the community’s railways (especially to enhance the use of railways for freight transport) and promote intermodal and combined transport and public transport. As yet none of these strategies aims to reduce the overall growth in demand, nor are concrete targets set for modal shares. The recent Commission Communication on the future development of the CTP stated, however, that ‘the Commission will give particular attention to measures designed to reduce the dependence of economic growth on increases in transport activity’ (CEC, 1998b). Transport demand-management policies are emerging only slowly in some countries.

Group key findings

  • Over the past 25 years the globalisation of economies, the Single Market and increases in welfare have led to a considerable increase in demand for transport. Passenger and freight transport demand have more than doubled, and both have grown more rapidly than GDP. Transport demand in the EU in 1997 reached 5 100 bn passenger-km and 2 700 bn tonne-km. There has been a dramatic shift towards road transport and aviation.
  • Passenger transport has grown with economic activity and ever-increasing car ownership levels. This in turn has influenced human settlement and socio-economic patterns. Passenger transport demand has increased much more rapidly than population over the past 25 years, reflecting a rise in mobility: the average daily distance travelled by EU citizens was 16.5 km in 1970 and 36 km in 1996. The spatial spread of economic activities, urban sprawl, the evolving services sector, higher disposable income and car ownership, and increased leisure time all influence mobility.
  • Freight transport has also grown during the past decade, both internally in the EU and for external trade. Between 1970 and 1997, with the internationalisation of trade, freight tonne-km grew more rapidly than tonnage as journey lengths increased. Trucking (responsible for nearly 50  % of all EU haulage in 1997) is predicted to shift towards higher value goods, smaller shipment sizes, higher frequency, and larger geographical coverage which will increase journey lengths and decrease average loads still further. While the Community’s freight transport action plans have resulted in a better performance of short-sea shipping (shipping accounted for some 40  % of EU freight transport in 1997), they have not yet reversed the declining shares of rail and inland waterways.

Figure 2.1: Growth in population, economic activity and transport demand (EU)

Source: DG Transport, Eurostat


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