Railway transport measurement

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union


Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)



For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT

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1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

E3: Transport Statistics

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG


2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 29/01/2019
2.2. Metadata last posted 29/01/2019
2.3. Metadata last update 29/01/2019


3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Eurostat collects rail transport statistics by two means:

1. Voluntary data collection. Data are collected using the Common Questionnaire of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Eurostat and the International Transport Forum (ITF). Full details are set out in another document (see link in Annexes section, at the bottom of the page).

The following Eurostat dissemination tables are based on this data collection:

  1. all tables in subsection: Railway transport infrastructure (rail_if)
  2. all tables in subsection: Railway transport equipment (rail_eq)
  3. all tables in subsection: Railway transport - enterprises, economic performance and employment (rail_ec)
  4. all tables in subsection: Railway traffic (rail_tf) but table Train movements (rail_tf_trainmv)
  5. table Railway transport - Number of victims by type of injury (rail_ac_inj) in subsection Railway transport - Accidents (rail_ac) 

Additionally, one table in the regional transport section is based on a different voluntary data collection (REGWeb questionnaire) and contains information on railway infrastructure (length of railway lines - total, electrified and with double or more tracks) by NUTS 2 regions.

2. Mandatory data collection based on the legal act. Data collection on goods and passenger transport is based on Regulation EU 2018/643 , recast of the Regulation (EU) 2016/2032 which entered into force at the end of 2016. this regulation amended the Regulation EC 91/2003 which was in force from the beginning of 2003.The freight data from 1982 until 2002 are based on Directive 80/1177/EEC. Compared to the Directive, Regulation 91/2003 covered the transport of passengers and goods and statistics on accidents in addition . A detailed description of the source of each dissemination table can be found in the section at the bottom of this page.

3.2. Classification system

Goods transported by rail are classified according to the 20 divisions of goods following the 'Standard Goods Classification for Transport Statistics 2007 with effect from reference year 2008. Before 2008, Standard Goods Classification for Transport statistics/Revised (NST/R) was used.

The codes of regions used in the region-to-region statistics are indicated in Regulation (EC) 1059/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council. For more information on NUTS classification please refer to the following link.

Classification of dangerous goods follows Part I of Annex I of Council Directive 96/49/EC and the regulation concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by rail, usually known as the RID.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Transport/railway undertakings (undertakings providing transport services and services for the transport of goods and/or passengers by rail, e.g. maintenance services, infrastructure management, etc.).

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Rail transport statistics use the "territoriality principle", meaning that each country reports the loading/embarkation, unloading/disembarkation and movements of goods and passengers that take place in its national territory. For this reason, "tonne-kilometre" or "passenger-kilometre" are the best measure for comparing transport modes and countries, because the use of tonnes or passengers entails a high risk of double counting, particularly in international transport.

The volume and performance of rail freight traffic are measured in tonnes (mass) and tonne-kilometres. Passenger transport by rail is measured in the number of passengers and in passenger-kilometres. Information on the number of train kilometres is also available (for both passenger and freight transport).

As regards freight and passenger transport, rail data are available at national (annual and quarterly data) and regional (NUTS 2) levels (every five years).

Traffic flows on the rail network are measured in number of trains - passenger, freight and others (optional) - every five years.

Some Annexes set out simplified reporting requirements that may be used by Member States as an alternative to the normal detailed reporting , for undertakings below the threshold laid down in article 4 of the Regulation (EU) 2018/643. As a consequence, for some countries ( which apply both simplified and detailed reporting for railway undertakings, depending on their transport performance), the totals may vary between the dissemination tables ( depending on wheather they include only detailed reporting or detailed and simplified reporting figures). Please refer to section 3.1 Data description or to the list of production tables used for compiling of the dissemination tables which are avilable on CIRCA BC (Transport Statistics/02.Rail. Data monitoring.)

For certain tables, the number of intermodal transport units (containers, swap bodies and road vehicles) are reported, in addition to tonnes and tonne-kilometres. For containers, volumes expressed in TEUs are also available.

Tonnes, tonne-kms, passengers and passenger-kms are presented in different tables according to the following break-downs for each reporting country and year:

  • type of transport (national, international and transit),
  • category of goods according to NST/R (w.e.f. 2008 reference year NST 2007) (only freight),
  • geographical origin and destination at country level (annual data) and regional level (every five years, NUTS 2 level).

Definition of indicators

According to Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/643 'tonne-km' means the unit of measure of goods transport which represents the transport of one tonne (1000 kilograms) of goods by rail over a distance of one kilometre. Only the distance on the national territory of the reporting country should be taken into account. The weight to be taken into consideration includes, in addition to the weight of the goods transported, the weight of packaging and the tare weight of containers, swap bodies, pallets and road vehicles transported by rail in the course of combined transport operations. If the goods are transported by more than one railway undertaking, the weight of goods should, wherever possible not be counted more than once.

In passenger transport, 'rail passenger' means any person, excluding members of the train crew, who makes a trip by rail. For accident statistics, passengers trying to embark/disembark onto/from a moving train are included. The 'number of passengers' means the number of trips by rail passengers, where each trip is defined as a movement from the place of embarkation to the place of disembarkation, with or without transfers from one rail vehicle to another. If passengers use more than one railway undertaking, they should wherever possible not be counted more than once. Finally, 'passenger-km' means the unit of measure representing the transport of one passenger by rail over a distance of one kilometre. Only the distance on the national territory of the reporting country should be taken into account.

Please refer to the country specific notes for details.

3.5. Statistical unit

The statistical units for rail transport statistics are all railway undertakings in the reporting countries who may exclude from the scope of Regulation 2018/643 (Article 2):

(a) railway undertakings which operate entirely or mainly within industrial and similar installations, including harbours;

(b) railway undertakings which mainly provide local tourist services, such as preserved historical steam railways.

According to Commission Regulation 2018/643, 'railway undertaking' means any public or private undertaking which provides services for the transport of goods and/or passengers by rail. Undertakings whose sole business is to provide services for the transport of passengers by metro, tram and/or light rail are excluded.

3.6. Statistical population

Primary data on passenger and freight transport are collected from the railway undertakings operating at national territory in each reporting country. The data on freight are most commonly based on the totality of consignment notes (FR: ‘lettre de voiture', DE: ‘Frachtbrief') extracted from the railway undertakings' databases. Passenger statistics are based either on ticket sales or mobility surveys.

Primary data on traffic (Annex V data, formerly annex G) are mostly collected form the infrastructure managers or/and from the railway undertakings.

Compiled railway transport data (freight and passenger transport) are provided to Eurostat mostly by National Statistical Institutes. In some cases there are other official /governmental sources, e.g. Ministries of Transport.

3.7. Reference area

Regulation (EU) 2018/643 of the European Parliament and of the Council on rail transport statistics - goods and paseengers (recast) is the new legal basis from 2018

Passenger and freight transport data according to Regulation 91/2003 cover the period from 2004 onwards (partial freight transport data are available for 2003) for EU countries plus Norway  and Liechtenstein (excluding Malta and Cyprus which do not have railways). Data for Switzerland, Bulgaria and Romania are available from 2008, 2006 and 2004 onwards respectively.

Data for candidate countries as Turkey, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina  are also published from 2007, 2009,  2012, respectively 2016.

Passenger and freight transport data according to Regulation (EU) 2018/643 cover the period from 2016 onwards, covers  EU Member States, excluding Malta and Cyprus (which do not have railways), the EFTA countries Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the candidate and potential candidate countries Turkey, North Macedonia,  Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Passenger and freight transport data according to Regulation 91/2003 cover the period from 2004 onwards (partial freight transport data are available for 2003) for EU countries plus Norway  and Liechtenstein (excluding Malta and Cyprus which do not have railways). Data for Switzerland, Bulgaria and Romania are available from 2008, 2006 and 2004 onwards respectively.

Data for candidate countries as Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina  are also published from 2007, 2009,  2012, respectively 2016.

Passenger and freight transport data according to Regulation (EU) 2018/643 cover the period from 2016 onwards, covers  EU Member States, excluding Malta and Cyprus (which do not have railways), the EFTA countries Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the candidate and potential candidate countries Turkey, North Macedonia  Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The above coverage concerns data that have been sent to Eurostat. If the data are declared confidential  they may normally not be disseminated.

3.8. Coverage - Time

The first reference period available and the first data delivery by dataset (according to Regulation 91/2003) are available in the Annexes section (Implementation of the Regulation 91_2003_data transmission calendar) at the bottom of this page.

Passenger and freight transport data according to Regulation 91/2003 cover the period from 2004 onwards (partial freight transport data are available for 2003) for EU countries plus Norway and Liechtenstein (excluding Malta and Cyprus which do not have railways). Data for Switzerland, Bulgaria and Romania are available from 2008, 2006 and 2004 onwards respectively. When available, Candidate Countries (e.g. HR, TR) data are also published.

From 2018, Regulation 2018/643 became new legal basis for data collection on rail transport statistics.

Accident statistics are covered from 2004 onwards for all EU  Member States except Malta and Cyprus which do not have railways, Romania, Liechtenstein, Norway, Croatia and Turkey. Data for Switzerland and Romania are available from 2008 and 2006 onwards respectively. From 2016 data on accidents is no longer required by the rail regulation, instead data will be taken from European Union Agency for Railways and published in Eurobase.

 

3.9. Base period

Not applicable


4. Unit of measure Top

The volume and performance of rail freight traffic are measured in tonnes (mass) and tonne-kilometres. Passenger transport by rail is measured in the number of passengers and in passenger-kilometres. Information on the number of train kilometres is also available.

Traffic flows on the rail network are measured in number of trains - passenger, freight and others (optional).

For accident statistics, the number of persons killed or injured and the number of accidents are provided.


5. Reference Period Top

The tables consist mostly of annual data. There are some tables providing quarterly and quinquennial (every five years) data.

According to the Rail regulation (EU) 2018/643 data is collected as following: Annual data – Annex I –goods transport collected for a reference period of one year with a deadline for data transmission as 5 months after the reference  period, Annex II –passenger transport, yearly data with eight months deadline after the end of reference period Annex III – quarterly data for goods and passengers with a deadline of three months after the end of the reference period, Annex IV and V data every five years on regional statistics on goods and passengers and rail network with deadline of 12 respectively 18 months after the end of reference period and Annex VIII goods and passengers transport for small undertakings with 5 respectively 8 months deadline after the end of reference period.

These are the deadlines when the data have to be send to Eurostat by the Competent National Authorities. Normally it should not take more than one month for Eurostat to process the data.


6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

With the effect from 2016, Regulation ( EC) 91/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on rail transport statistics was amended by Regulation (EU) 2016/2032 of the European Parliament and of the Council and from 2018 a new regulation (EU) 2018/643 -RECAST - is the new legal basis for the rail transport statistics.

With effect from the beginning of 2003, Directive 80/1177/EC has been replaced by Regulation (EC) No 91/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2002 on rail transport statistics".

Regulation 91/2003 was amended by "Commission Regulation (EC) No 1192/2003 of 3 July 2003 amending Regulation (EC) No 91/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on rail transport statistics", which gives common definitions for the terms used in the basic act and modifies slightly the Annex related to accident statistics.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable


7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

If the data are declared confidential under Article 7 of Regulation 2018/643, they may normally not be disseminated.


8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Not available

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.


9. Frequency of dissemination Top

In principle, Eurostat receives the quarterly data three months and annual data 5-18 months after the end of the reference period. After reception, the data are validated and, if there are no errors or inconsistencies, they are uploaded to the Eurostat's dissemination tables.


10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

An online news release is usually accompanying the update of a publication. News releases are issued at 11 a.m CET on Eurostat website.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

There are usually three Statistics explained (SE) publications on rail transport statistics - dealing with goods and passenger transport and accidents. From 2018 article on statistics explained on accidents will be linked with accidents data from European Union Agency for Railways.

Other publications are Transport Statistics Brochures and Statistical book on transport , energy and environment.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult dissemination tables (free data on-line).

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Internet address: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Definitions used in data compilation are available in Regulation (EU) 2018/643 and in the Glossary for transport statistics.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

There are 'country specific notes' files for each country providing rail transport data.


11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Railway transport data are checked before being entered into the database and disseminated to the public; the validation rules are intended to assure:

  • consistency between the tables and datasets (within tables and cross-table checks)
  • common structure of datasets and nomenclatures (classifications)
  • year to year comparability of the same indicators
11.2. Quality management - assessment

There are still some quality problems with the data collected under Regulation 2018/643:

  • There have still been some discrepancies in the use of definitions in different Member States. These are mostly related to the reporting of transit traffic or railway accidents. For details please refer to the country specific notes.
  • A study on the quality of rail transport statistics is monitored regularly, and the "mirror statistics" still reveal big differences in international transport figures as reported by sending and receiving countries.

Regular efforts are made to improve the new production system, based on Regulation 2018/643, and the problems are addressed in Eurostat's Working Groups and Task Forces.


12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Users' needs and expectations were surveyed via on-line questionnaires. The basic users of rail statistics (evaluated during the last survey in 2008) are:

  • universities/research institutes
  • consultants
  • international and governmental bodies
  • railway undertakings
  • National Statistical Institutes
  • press and private users
  • Commission departments

Railway data users are mostly interested in:

  • passenger and freight transport data
  • network traffic

Rail statistics are mostly used for:

  • trend analysis
  • forecasting
  • modelling
  • market research

Rail data users have expressed their interest in the following additional data (not covered by the current rail data collection):

  • annual instead of five yearly regional goods and passenger transport statistics
  • annual instead of five yearly statistics on railway network traffic
  • regional data classified at NUTS 3 instead of NUTS 2
  • more details on rail accidents
  • inclusion of transit passengers in the passenger statistics
  • inclusion of all containers carried by rail whatever other mode of transport is used
  • type of goods in containers
  • dissemination of data on railway undertakings
  • passenger and freight transport broken down by distance classes

passenger statistics broken down by conventional and high speed services. 

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available

12.3. Completeness

Railway data collected within the scope of the legal acts are complete. Data based on the voluntary questionnaires (Common Questionnaire and REGWeb questionnaires) are very often incomplete and not very up to date.

Some break-downs of rail statistics do not apply to all countries:

  • Transit transport is not applicable to countries in coastal areas, e.g. Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Regional transport has not been reported by countries with only one region: Denmark, Luxembourg, the Baltic States and Slovenia.


13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

Not applicable.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable.


14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

In principle, Eurostat receives the quarterly data three months and annual data 5-18 months after the end of the reference period. After reception, the data are validated and (if there are no errors or inconsistencies to be clarified with the data providers) uploaded to Eurostat's dissemination tables; this in general does not take more than one month.

14.2. Punctuality

Dissemination of the data depends on the punctuality of data delivery and the completeness of the datasets provided by the countries. Some countries have problems with supplying railway statistics within the deadlines set in Regulation 2018/643. In this case data dissemination may be delayed.


15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Not available.

15.2. Comparability - over time

There might be some inconsistencies between the data collected within the scope of Directive 80/1177/EEC, Regulation 91/2003 and Regulation 2018/643 as concerns freight transport statistics (mostly because of different definitions used).

During the first five years (2004-2008) of application of Regulation (EC) No 1192/2003, Member States were able to report accidents statistics according to national definitions if data conforming to harmonised definitions (adopted according to the procedure of Article 11 (2)) were not available. For details please refer to the country specific notes.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Not applicable

15.4. Coherence - internal

There are several validation rules which are applied to the data supplied by countries in order to detect any inconsistencies between the tables and within the tables. Data which are disseminated are in principle free of such errors; special cases are reported in the country specific notes.


16. Cost and Burden Top

Not available.


17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Data are revised to correct detected errors. Some Member States revise quarterly data regularly whenever new data are sent to Eurostat. Because of this, please always note the date of the latest revisions of each table.

17.2. Data revision - practice

After receipt, the data revisions are validated and (if there are no errors or inconsistencies to be clarified with the data providers) uploaded to Eurostat's dissemination tables; this in general does not take more than two weeks.


18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

The necessary data may be obtained using any combination of the following sources:

  • compulsory surveys;
  • administrative data, including data collected by regulatory authorities;
  • statistical estimation procedures;
  • data supplied by professional organisations in the rail industry;
  • ad hoc studies.

International rail transport in Europe is governed by the CIM ("Convention Internationale concernant le transport de Marchandises par chemin de fer" or "international convention concerning the carriage of goods by rail") and national legislation has similar requirements concerning transport contracts.

The consignment note is a certificate documenting that a contract of carriage has been concluded and what it covers. The original is enclosed with the goods, whilst the consigning party retains a copy.

The data on traffic are mostly collected from the infrastructure managers or/and form the railway undertakings.

The data on accidents are usually collected from the different investigation bodies (police, coroners, etc.) or from National Railway Safety Authorities.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Not available.

18.3. Data collection

Rail statistics are in most cases based on the commercial data of railway undertakings that are, in addition to their original use, aggregated and published for statistical purposes after being structured to meet the needs of the legislation.

18.4. Data validation

The data received from reporting countries under Regulation (EU) 2018/643 are processed and validated in the following process flow:

1. Reception of the data. Eurostat saves the original files in the format in which they arrive at Eurostat. In most cases data arrive in predefined CSV (comma separated value) format.

2. Data validation

3. Additional cross-table checks are also applied in order to verify the consistency between the datasets.

18.5. Data compilation

European aggregates are compiled by Eurostat as soon as all data become available - provided that dissemination is not limited by confidentiality.

The railway undertakings base their data collection on loading, unloading and movement of goods registered in their databases as "consignment notes".

Ticket sales and surveys can be used for passenger data.

18.6. Adjustment

Rail data are not seasonally adjusted. In some cases, where outliers have been identified in the data provided by the Member States, figures have been corrected with the help of the reporting countries.


19. Comment Top

The country specific notes  present additional information on any inconsistencies detected during data validation or added by the countries for methodological reasons. They refer only to tables based on datasets provided under Regulation (EU) 2018/643 (not to data derived from the Common Questionnaire or from the Directive). Data users should especially be aware of the strong impact of the economic crisis (having started by the end of 2008) on rail transport, explaining the general decrease observed during the reference years 2008 and 2009 and the subsequent increase related to rail transport recovery.

Some break-downs of rail statistics do not apply to all countries:

  • Transit transport is not applicable to countries in coastal areas, e.g. Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
  • Regional transport has not been reported by countries with only one region: Denmark, Luxembourg, the Baltic States and Slovenia.

There are still some quality problems with the data collected under Regulation (EU) 2018/643:

  • There have still been some discrepancies in the use of definitions in different Member States. These are mostly related to the reporting of transit traffic or railway accidents. For details please refer to the country specific notes.
  • A study on the quality of rail transport statistics is monitored regularly, and the "mirror statistics" still reveal big differences in international transport figures as reported by sending and receiving countries.

Regular efforts are made to improve the new production system, based on Regulation (EU) 2018/643, and the problems are addressed in Eurostat's Working Groups and Task Forces.


Related metadata Top


Annexes Top
Reference Manual on Rail transport statistics
Glossary for transport statistics
Regulation on rail transport statistics