Road freight transport statistics

Data extracted in October 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: November 2017.

This article presents the main trends in road freight transport up to 2015 in the European Union (EU). The analysis is carried out for national, international, cross-trade as well as cabotage transport. Road freight transport by type of goods and distance classes are also presented in this article, as well as goods moved on countries’ territories and country-to-country flows.

Figure 1: EU-28 quarterly road freight transport, 2011-2015
(billion tkm)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_tq_tott), see Country codes
Table 1: National, international loaded and unloaded, cross-trade and cabotage transport, 2014-2015
(million tkm)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_tott)
Table 2: EU-28 road freight transport by group of goods (NST 2007), 2011-2015
(thousand tonnes and million tkm)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_tg)
Figure 2: EU-28 total transport by distance classes, 2011-2015
(2011=100, based on tkm)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_dctg)
Table 3: Road freight transport by distance class, 2015
(million tkm)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_dctg)
Table 4: EU-28 road freight transport by distance class and group of goods (NST 2007), 2011-2015
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_dctg)
Figure 3: Goods moved on the countries' territory (national, international transport loaded, unloaded and cross-trade), 2015
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_tott) (road_go_ia_ugtt) (road_go_ia_lgtt) (road_go_cta_gtt)
Table 5: Main country-to-country flows in extra EU-28 road goods transport, 2015
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_tott) (road_go_ia_ugtt) (road_go_ia_lgtt) (road_go_cta_gtt)
Table 6: Main country-to-country flows in intra EU-28 road goods transport, 2015
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (road_go_ta_tott) (road_go_ia_ugtt) (road_go_ia_lgtt) (road_go_cta_gtt)

Main statistical findings

European road freight transport growths for the third consecutive year in 2015

In terms of tonne-kilometres (tkm), European road freight transport increased by 2.2 % in 2015 compared with 2014. In 2015, European road freight transport is the highest from the last 5 years, recovering also the important decrease from 2012 (see Figure 1 and Table 1).

The major component, national transport, remained stable, while the smaller in share cross-trade and cabotage transport recorded a continuous increase in the last five years.

Poland confirmed its position as one of the largest transport country in Europe. Bulgaria (+16.0 %), Croatia (+11.3 %) and Romania (+11.1 %) were the Member States recording the highest rise in tkm performed, while at the other end of the scale, Portugal registered a substantial decline (-8.7 %).

Metal ores and other mining and quarrying products were the major group in tonnage terms, while food products dominates transport in tkm.

Most distance classes increased between 2011 and 2015, the main exception being the very short distances (Tkm in movements less than 50 km are 6.9 % below 2011 level), while the distance classes from 500 to 999 km and from 1000 to 1999 km are down by -3.2 % and -0.8 % respectively. Bulgaria, Lithuania, Hungary and Romania achieved growth in all distance classes in 2015 compared to 2011.

Cabotage and cross trade continued to grow in 2015

EU-28 national transport increased in 2015 (+3.0 %) and international transport loaded and unloaded slightly decreased by 1.1 %. In contrast, cross-trade and cabotage recorded increases of 6.2 % and 5.7 % respectively (see Table 1).

Four Member States, Slovenia, Latvia, Spain and Slovakia, registered increases in all categories of transport with rises in total of, respectively, 10.1 %, 7.5 % and 7.0 % for the last two. Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom recorded very strong growth for cabotage, while in cross-trade transport Bulgaria, Romania and Finland had strong increases. Luxembourg recorded a decline among all categories of transport. At total level, the highest fall in transport tkm was 8.7 % for Portugal, while the highest rise was 16.0 % in Bulgaria.

One of the countries with the largest road transport industries, Poland (14.8 % of EU total) recorded a significant increase of its total transport in 2015 compared to 2014 (3.9 %), resulting from a high increase in cross-trade and cabotage.

Among the other countries with a large road transport industry, Spain saw a rise of 7.0 %, driven by an important increase in international transport loaded and unloaded and France reported a decrease of 7.0 % due to an important decrease in international transport.

Mining and quarrying products represent a quarter of the total tonnage at EU-28 level

In terms of tonnage, European freight transport increased in 2015 for the second year (+1.4 % compared to 2014), but it didn't reach the value from 2011 which was followed by the sharp fall from 2012 (-6.5 %). Within the major product groups, the rises the most marked concerned coal, lignite, crude petroleum and natural gas (+40.2 %) and mail, parcels (+8.1 %). Metal products (-3.4 %) and other non metallic mineral products (-2.5 %) saw the highest decreases.

The major product groups were mining and quarrying products (25.3 % of the total), other non-metallic mineral products (12.0 %), food, beverages and tobacco (11.9 %) and agricultural products (9.1 %) (see Table 2).

In terms of tkm, the major product groups were food, beverages and tobacco (17.1 % of the total), agricultural products (11.1 %), other non-metallic mineral products (7.8 %), metal ores (7.6 %) and chemicals (7.1 %) as well as wood products and metal products (both 6.8 %). There were falls of 2.5 % for textiles, textile products, leather and leather products and 2.0 % for coal, lignite, crude petroleum and natural gas. There was a rise of 7.2 % in mail and parcels between 2014 and 2015.

Longer distance class recorded highest rise compared with 2010

In 2015, 7.7 % of goods travelled under 50 km and 4.6 % travelled more than 2 000 km. However, the bulk of transport activity falls between 150 and 1 000 km and transport in these distance classes accounts for 58.7 % of the total. A more important consideration for policy purposes is that 55.9 % of freight volumes are carried on distances over 300 km. For journeys at these longer distances, there is more opportunity to substitute road transport with more environmentally friendly modes.

Figure 2 shows the trends in transport for broad distance classes since 2011. Transport in all distance classes has decreased in 2012 and started recovering year after year. In 2015, transport in all distance classes was higher than in 2011, the highest being very long distances of more than 1 000 km (+4.6 %).

Table 3 shows the change in transport by distance classes between 2011 and 2015 for the EU-28 and individual countries. Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania recorded growth in all distance classes between 2014 and 2015. Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania made major gains for distances of more than 300 km. Ireland, France and Italy were the only countries registering falls in all distance classes. Among the major economies, Poland and Spain recorded falls for short distances, as much of the rise occurred in the longer ones, while the opposite applies to the Netherlands, recording a decrease for longer distances.

Table 4 shows transport of goods by type of good split between movements of 300 km or more and movements less than 300 km, all in tonnage terms in 2015. The largest change between 2014 and 2015 in specific goods in longer distance movements is a 19.7 % fall of coal, lignite, crude petroleum and natural gas. For the shorter distance movements, the categories of goods recording the highest decreases were metal products (--5.1 %) and other non metallic mineral products (-2.9 %). In contrast, there was a 45.4 % rise in coal, lignite, crude petroleum and natural gas, and an increase of 8.3 % for mail and parcels on short distances. Products where there was a major difference in the changes between the shorter and longer journeys included coal, lignite, crude petroleum and natural gas where there was a 45.4 % rise for the shorter journeys against 19.7 % fall for longer distances, which was by far the highest difference.

High performance by Polish hauliers as third parties in country to country flows

France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Poland, and Italy dominated the European road transport in 2015, measured in tonnes loaded and unloaded. They accounted for 45.7 % of the total, with France on its own representing 12.5 % (Figure 3). Considering international transport only, i.e. goods entering and leaving the country, the pattern changed significantly. While France remained the largest, the Netherlands and Belgium, with their large North Sea ports, came second and third, ahead of Poland, Italy and Spain. Austria and the Czech Republic had larger international transport than the United Kingdom.

At the more detailed country to country level (Table 5), five extra EU states emerged as main trading partners, namely Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Turkey and San Marino. With three exceptions, all the trading was with close neighbours. Switzerland’s traffic was with France (11.7 % of the total extra EU transport), Italy, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, while Norway had links with Sweden and Denmark. Russia mainly traded with Poland, Turkey with Bulgaria and San Marino with Italy. These are only extra EU flows, i.e. transport between an EU country and an extra-EU country.

Table 6 explores the same area in more detail, highlighting the main intra EU country to country flows with additional information about the balance between hauliers of the two countries and the penetration by hauliers from third countries.

Not unexpectedly, France appeared in several of the top 20 country to country flows. For France, the share of the total taken by French hauliers in any bilateral flow was normally substantially less than a half, dropping to 6.1 % for the bilateral Spain/France traffic. French hauliers achieved their highest shares in Belgium/France traffic (26.4 %) and France/Italy traffic (25.8 %).

The penetration of third country hauliers in the main flows varied substantially. Third country penetration varied from 45.3 % for Austria/Italy traffic, 35.2 % for France/Italy and 34.4 % for France and the Netherlands to 1.2 % for Ireland/United Kingdom, 1.1 % for the Czech Republic/Poland and 0.6 % for Spain/Portugal.

The nationality of the main third party hauliers involved in the transport movements shows the success of Polish hauliers in their entry into third country markets. Poland emerged as the most successful third country with its hauliers appearing as the main other haulier in several of the top 20 country to country markets. In most cases, there is a geographical link between the third country and the countries where the transport is performed.

The 2015 German data is not available, but it can be assumed that their performance for 2015 was more or less close to the 2014 level. Therefore, it is expected that they are still on a very good position in these country to country flows.

Data sources and availability

Germany: German data for reference year 2015 was not provided. Therefore, 2014 data was used for reference year 2015.

Croatia: While Croatia had no obligation prior to their accession in 2013, it started to report data for the reference year 2008.

Malta: Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 does not apply to Malta, so long as the number of Maltese-registered goods road transport vehicles licensed to engage in international transport does not exceed 400 vehicles.

Finland: National and international surveys have been harmonised and follow a common methodology from Q1 2011 onwards, leading to a break in time series in 2011.

Sweden: A break in series was produced in 2014 following a change in methodology. On the basis of a specific survey, Sweden corrected the European road freight survey results for trucks participating to the sample which were not in use over the surveyed period.

Liechtenstein: Liechtenstein reports only international road freight transport. Starting with the reference year 2014, Liechtenstein is exempted from the reporting of road freight data.

EU-28 totals calculated in this publication refer to road freight transport reported by the EU-28 Member States excluding Malta which is currently exempted from reporting road freight statistics.

Total transport

Total transport includes national transport, international transport of goods loaded in the reporting countries, international transport of goods unloaded in the reporting countries, cross-trade and cabotage transport.

National transport

Road transport between two places (a place of loading and a place of unloading) located in the same country by a vehicle registered in that country.

International transport loaded and unloaded

International transport as presented in this publication is based on goods loaded and unloaded in the reporting Member States. Each reporting country reports all activities of a road motor vehicle inside and outside its national territory. There is thus no risk of double counting at European level.

Breakdown by goods groups

Starting with the reference year 2008, Regulation (EC) No 1304/2007 establishes NST 2007 as the sole classification for goods carried in road freight transport. For detailed information on the NST 2007 classification, please refer to ‘Ramon’, Eurostat’s Metadata Server.

Transport by distance class

Eurostat disseminates road freight transport according to the following distance classes: less than 50 km; 50-149 km; 150-299 km; 300-499 km; 500-999 km; 1 000-1 999 km; 2 000-5 999 km; over 6 000 km. More detailed data and metadata are available in the Eurostat dissemination database.

Goods entering a country

The volume of goods entering a country is the sum of international transport and cross-trade unloaded in the country by hauliers from all reporting countries.

Goods leaving a country

The volume of goods leaving a country is the sum of international transport and cross-trade loaded in the country by hauliers from all reporting countries.

Figure 3

This Figure presents volumes moved on the territory of each country if there is loading or unloading of the goods. Transit where neither loading nor unloading takes place in the crossed country, is not included in this figure. The weight of goods in international transport is accounted for both in the country of loading and in the country of unloading. The weight of goods in national transport is accounted for only once.

Data availability

The figures presented in this publication have been extracted from Eurostat’s free dissemination database and reflect the state of data availability on the 10/10/2016.

In this article:

  •  1 billion = 1 000 000 000
  • "-" = not applicable
  • "c" = confidential


Data presented in this publication were collected in the framework of Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road (recast). These data are based on sample surveys carried out in the reporting countries, i.e. EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland, and record the road goods transport undertaken by vehicles registered in these countries.

Reporting countries use their own national surveys for the collection of data based on returns from road hauliers. The results are microdata referring to vehicles and their linked journeys providing detailed information on goods transported. At the European level, common aggregation procedures have been used that might diverge from national practices. Therefore differences might occur between the figures in this publication and national values. For the distinction between national and international transport, journey information is used at the European level, which might cause differences in corresponding values from those countries that are using goods information for these statistics.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Road transport (t_road)


Road transport (road)
Road freight transport measurement (road_go)

Dedicated section

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

  • Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road (recast)
  • Regulation (EC) No 1304/2007 of 7 November 2007 amending Directive 95/64, Regulation (EC) No 1172/98, Regulations (EC) No 91/2003 and (EC) No 1365/2006 with respect to the establishment of NST 2007 as the unique classification for transported goods in certain transport modes