On December 8, 2016, the European Commission (EC): Transport and Mobility published the fifth report on monitoring developments of the rail market in Europe. The EC is the executive body of the European Union (EU). It is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding EU treaties and managing the daily business of the EU.
Rail market regulations
In 2007, the EC established a Rail Market Monitoring Scheme (RMMS) to collect data on rail market developments in the member states through voluntary questionnaires.
EU’s recast directive has added a legal base for RMMS reporting and data harmonisation. It requires the EC to monitor technical and economic conditions as well as market developments in rail transport across the EU. This includes the use of networks as well as the evolution of framework conditions such as infrastructure charging, capacity allocation, investments made in railway infrastructure, prices, quality of services, use of public service contracts, market opening, degree of harmonisation, licensing, employment and related social conditions.
As per Article 15 (4) of Directive 2012/34/EU, the EC is required to report the following every two years:
In July 2015, the EC implemented Regulation (EU) 2015/1100 for rail market monitoring (or RMMS Regulation), which mandates data collection.
The state of EU’s railway network
Network length: In 2014, the EU had a total rail network length 220,000 km, which is about two per cent more than that in 2009.
Germany has the largest length of rail network in Europe (38,836 km), followed by France (30,905 km), Poland (18,942 km) and Italy (17,037 km). Luxembourg (275 km) and Slovenia (1,208 km) have the smallest rail network.
Figure 1 shows the relative change in national railway network since 2009.
Figure 1: Relative change in national railway network (2009-2016)
Source: Statistical pocketbook 2016, EC, Global Mass Transit Research
No relative change in railway network was recorded in Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania and Luxembourg. Spain and France recorded the maximum increase in network length; whereas Greece, Portugal, Norway and Austria have recorded a major decrease in network length. Eastern European and peripheral countries (Latvia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Croatia) have cancelled services due to financial constraints and decreased demand. Decreased demand in these countries has often been caused by low service quality including low frequency, long travel times and old fleet.
High-speed network: In total, 3.4 per cent of the European rail network is high-speed rail (HSR). From 2009 to 2015, the HSR network has been expanded by 1,400 km (31 per cent). EU accounted for a total HSR network of 8,019 km (excluding Greece and Spain in 2012 and, Ireland and the Netherlands in 2013).
Figure 2 shows length (km) of HSR lines as of 2015.
Figure 2: Total HSR length in 2015 (km)
Source: Statistical pocketbook 2016 and EC
In 2014, more than 110 billion passenger-km (26 per cent) were operated on HSR lines. The Spanish HSR network (2,871 km in operation and 1,200 km under construction) is the second largest in the world after China.
Around 1,200 km of HSR lines are under construction in Denmark, Germany, France, Italy and Austria. In addition, large sections of the conventional rail network have been upgraded for use by high-speed trains. The Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T, EC information system) is planned to extend over 30,000 km by 2030.
Evolution of the internal market in rail services
In 2014, about 9.4 billion rail trips were made in EU countries. As per RMMS data (2009 to 2014), passenger rail demand in the EU has increased by 30 billion passenger-km to 429 billion passenger-km, of which about six per cent is international. Passenger rail demand has grown at an average annual rate of 1.5 per cent.
Figure 3 shows domestic and international passenger traffic on the EU rail system (2007 to 2014).
Figure 3: Growth of passenger traffic (domestic and international)
Source: EC report
While domestic passenger travel has shown a constant increase, the share of international passenger travel has remained the same. Only France and Portugal accounted for a five per cent increase in international passenger travel.
Although there has been a significant increase in passenger volume, the modal share of passenger rail in land transport has increased only marginally from 7.1 per cent to 7.5 per cent.
Evolution of the internal market in stations
Passenger rail stations: In 2014, member states had 30,000 stations, of which 300 stations were serving more than 25,000 passengers daily. Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia have more than 250 stations per 1,000 line-km, which means the average distance between two stations is less than five km. On the other hand, Finland, Belgium and Ireland have less than 50 stations per 1,000 line-km, which means the average distance between two stations is more than 20 km.
Figure 4 shows the number of stations in various countries serving more than 10,000 passengers per day in 2013.
Figure 4: No. of stations serving more than 10,000 passengers per day (2013)
Source: RMMS (data 2013 for IE), Global Mass Transit Research
Germany, France and the United Kingdom have the high number of stations serving more than 25,000 passengers per day. Hungary has 10 stations serving more than 25,000 passenger per day. Lithuania and Slovenia have no stations serving more than 10,000 passengers per day.
Figure 5 shows the number of stations in various countries serving less than 10,000 passengers per day in 2013.
Figure 5: No. of stations serving less than 10,000 passengers per day (2013)
Source: RMMS (data 2013 for IE), Global Mass Transit Research
Germany, France, Poland and the Czech Republic have a large number of small stations, which serve 1,000-10,000 passengers per day. Very small stations, which serve less than 1,000 passengers per day, outnumber stations that serve between 1,000 and 10,000 passengers per day in all countries (except the Netherlands).
Accessibility of stations for travellers with reduced mobility: In November 2014, the EC announced implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1300/2014 for accessibility of the rail system for persons with disabilities and reduced mobility (PRM TSI) from January 1, 2015.
As per the regulation, member states are required to adopt the National Implementation Plan (NIP) to progressively eliminate all barriers to accessibility. The NIP contains a strategy, including the criteria and priorities for stations and rolling stock, for renewal and upgrades. This NIP is to be formulated in co-operation with infrastructure managers, station managers, railway undertakings and, where relevant, other local authorities.
(This is Part 1 of a two-part feature. Part 1 focuses on the network, internal market and passenger rail stations. Part 2 will be released in Global Mass Transit Monthly issue of February 2017. It will cover infrastructure growth, fare and ticketing, quality of rail and funding.)