The financier – Following strict precautionary measures and a reduced number of trains in circulation since March 2020, rail transport has decreased significantly in the EU. Freight transport was much less impacted by these restrictions than passenger transport, which almost halved between 2019 and 2020 (-46%) to reach 223 billion passenger-kilometers. The declines in the second and fourth quarters of 2020 (-74% and -54% compared to the same period of 2019) were particularly significant.
This information comes from rail transport data released today by Eurostat. The article presents some findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained articles on rail freight and passenger transport.
In 2020, the performance of rail freight transport in the EU fell by 6% compared to 2019 (in tonne-kilometers), with the second quarter of 2020 being the most impacted (-15% compared to the same period of 2019 ). However, the last quarter of 2020 saw a slight growth compared to the same quarter of the previous year (+ 6%).
All EU Member States reported substantial declines in the number of passengers carried by rail in 2020. The largest declines were recorded in Ireland (-64%) and Italy (-57%). Among the other EU member states, seven fell by more than 40% during the same period. In nine EU Member States, a decrease of between 30 and 40% was recorded.
Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria recorded the smallest declines with -29%, -28% and -21%, respectively.
Rail freight transport has been less impacted by COVID-19. Expressed in tonnes, five EU Member States and Norway recorded an increase in 2020 compared to the previous year. Ireland recorded the strongest growth (+ 30%), followed by Bulgaria (+ 19%).
In contrast, a sharp drop was observed in Latvia (-42%), followed by Estonia (-26%), Luxembourg (-18%), Spain (-17%) and Romania (-16 %). In absolute terms, Germany was the country with the largest decline in rail freight transport, with a decrease of 20 million tonnes in 2020 compared to 2019. Latvia followed with a decrease of 17 million tonnes on the same period.