Railway passenger transport statistics - quarterly and annual data

Data from December 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: January 2019

This article takes a look at recent annual and quarterly statistics on rail passenger transport in the European Union (EU). After a period of sustained growth, rail transport performance in passenger-kilometres started to feel the effects of the economic crisis at the beginning of 2009. Rail passenger transport nevertheless remained less affected than rail freight transport, and registered a recovery from 2010 onwards. A steady growth was observed between 2011 and 2016, with a growth in each quarter of these six years compared with the same quarter of the previous year.

Figure 1: Quarterly evolution of EU-28 rail passenger transport performance for main undertakings (billion passenger-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (rail_pa_typepass)

Table 1: Quarterly evolution of rail passenger transport performance for main undertakings (million passenger-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat (rail_pa_typepass)

Table 2: Evolution of rail passenger transport between 2015 and 2016 for main undertakings (thousand passengers)
Source: Eurostat (rail_pa_typepas) (annual data)

Main statistical findings

Passenger transport performance by rail continued to recover in 2016

Based on quarterly figures, rail passenger transport performance at EU-28 level continued to increase by 5 billion passenger-kilometres between 2015 and 2016 (+1.1 %).

This increase was mainly influenced by the first and the last quarters of 2016 (+1.6 % and +1.8 % respectively compared to the corresponding quarters of the previous year). The second and third quarters also showed a positive trend when comparing with the corresponding quarters of the previous year (+0.5 % and +0.7 %respectively).

The evolution over the recent years shows different patterns at country level

Although rail passenger transport at EU-28 level recorded an increase in 2016 compared with 2015 (for both passenger-kilometres and transport passengers in thousand passengers units), many Member States showed a decrease over the same period. Based on quarterly data, the highest decrease in annual average transport performance among the EU-28 countries can be observed in Croatia (-12.2 %), followed by Bulgaria (-6.1 %) and Finland (-6.0 %). In contrast, the passenger-kilometres in Estonia, Poland and Lithuania increased in annual average by 8.1 %, 7.5 % and 6.8 %, respectively.

Outside the EU-28, Norway, Switzerland and Montenegro recorded a growth in rail passenger transport performance in 2016. The highest increase was observed for Montenegro with +4.1 % In contrast, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia registered the highest decrease with -53.3 %, followed by Turkey (-10.4 %) while in 2015, these two countries registered the highest increases.

Focusing on the share between national and international transport, national transport is always predominant, representing more than 90 % of the total transport for all countries in 2016 with the exception of Luxembourg. International transport represented 28 % of the total passenger transport by rail in Luxembourg. In Lithuania and Slovakia, the share of national transport slightly increased in 2016 compared with 2015, by 0.9 % and 0.6 %, respectively.

All in all, 17 of the EU-28 Member states reported increases in passenger transport between 2015 and 2016. The largest increases were recorded in Slovakia (+14.7 %), Finland (+8.1 %) and Ireland (+8.0 %). In contrast, the transport of passengers decreased by 4.9 % in Bulgaria followed by Croatia and Denmark (-4.3 % and -4.1 % respectively). Outside the EU-28, Montenegro registered a growth in rail passenger transport (4.1 %) while the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey registered decreases with -35.2 % and -6.6 % respectively compared to 2015.

Concerning the evolution of international transport (in thousand passengers) between 2015 and 2016, the largest increases were reported by Bulgaria (+120.0 %) and Estonia (+86.7 %). In contrast, the largest decreases were reported by Greece (-35.2 %) followed by Italy (-14.5 %) and Latvia (-12.5 %). Finally, concerning the evolution of national transport, Slovakia registered the largest increase with +15.5 % and Bulgaria the largest decrease with -6.2 %.

Data sources and availability

The figures presented in this publication have been extracted from Eurostat's rail transport database. They include data on national and international transport of the Member States, EFTA and Candidate Countries, collected according to the Regulation (EU) No 2016/2032 of the European Parliament and the Council, amending Regulation (EC) No 91/2003. The transport of passengers by metro, tram and/or light rail is excluded. The data presented are included in Eurostat’s dissemination database (reference tables are provided under each table and graph).

There is no railway in Cyprus and Malta.

The various elements present data collected under the detailed reporting system, meaning that data include only undertakings with a total volume of passenger transport of at least 100 million passenger-kilometres. Basic results and derived indicators (such as growth rates and shares in % of total) in the tables are rounded. However, the figures are based on the non-rounded original data. As a result, the sum of shares in % of total, as shown in the tables, is not necessarily equal to 100 %.

Explanatory notes for countries are available in the metadata on the Eurostat website


 : not available
- not applicable
0 actual zero or very negligible transport
c confidential data


The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the Regulation (EU) 2016/2032 of the European Parliament and the Council, amending Regulation (EC) No 91/2003 on rail transport statistics.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Railway transport (t_rail)
Rail transport of passengers (ttr00015)


Railway transport (rail)
Railway transport measurement - passengers (rail_pa)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Excel.jpg Rail passenger transport statistics 2016